General field of research
Francesco Zanotelli, Università degli Studi di Messina
The theoretical-ethnographic objective is to document some processes of socio-cultural construction of the economic value of the human being.
The project ethnographically investigated the critical and virtuous aspects of coexistence between persons of different geographic origins and roles (first-time jobseekers, workers and employers), in particular during three moments of the so-called “post-reception: the search for employment, the process of adaptation, and the stability of work and residence (whether formal or informal) of those migrants who leave the institutional reception system.
Geographically, the research was conducted in the area of the Strait of Messina and had, among others, the purpose of investigating the mobility of those who have applied for or have already been granted protection in the facing coastal regions of the narrow body of water that divides Sicily from Calabria. The geographic proximity of the two cities that form the focus of this anthropological analysis – Messina and Villa S. Giovanni – is not their only shared characteristic. Indeed they have economic and social characteristics in common which to some degree render them quite similar: the presence of numerous reception centers for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of protection as well as the absence of industrial plants and agricultural districts.
In these two cities, the experience of mobility and integration into social and working life on the part of migrants who have left the reception centers is closely connected to specific local characteristics. Above all, these environments are characterized by an informal network of working and housing opportunities based on exchanges between those outside and inside the centers. These characteristics were ethnographically investigated by making use of local social networks and focusing on the role played by these in promoting the migratory projects of those who have left the reception centers.
In particular, the project analyzed the functioning of the social networks through a specific investigation of a Pentecostal church and a social center, the first in Messina and the second in Villa S. Giovanni. In these two contexts the research focused on the following aspects:
– the good practices exercised by the subjects and bodies working in the reception sector;
– the forms of self-valorisation implemented by the migrant labour force that does not have access to the formal labour market;
– the housing integration strategies used by migrants;
– the existence of informal relational dynamics and mutual aid processes among migrants;
– practices of positive coexistence between locals and migrants.
Finally, identifying, investigating and describing several emblematic stories of integration into the working world – both as employees and as self-employed – allowed us to trace those elements which in the eyes of the host society (reception center operators, employers, customers and landlords) contribute to defining the economic value of migrants as well as the mechanisms of self-valorization of migrants and the resulting practices adopted by them.