Emergency in Transit: Witnessing Contemporary Migration “Crises” through Testimony and Colonial Memory in Italy


ACLS Fellowship Program


Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies


Global debates about asylum, human rights, citizenship, and border regimes center discourses and experiences of emergency, yet not all emergency declarations function equally. Focusing on Africa-Europe migration via Italy, Emergency in Transit demonstrates how emergency responses to precarious migration reproduce colonial logics and racialize migrants, while severely limiting the possibilities for people in transit to bear witness to their experiences on their own terms. This book considers the Italian case as both exemplary and unique, given Italy’s position in the Mediterranean and the many migrations that have shaped the Italian nation. Drawing on literary and ethnographic research, the book demonstrates how emergency responses to migration shape the lives of people on the move, and how those deemed “other” through emergency and crisis framings bear witness to their experiences despite these constraints, through testimonies that reimagine understandings of mobility and belonging.