The Body of the Others and the Politics of Refusal in Europe

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:10
Oral Presentation
Monica MASSARI, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
The body in its insuppressible materiality and, at the same time, profound symbolic value represents the place where the wounds of History’s violence inflicted by present time may be mostly visible. The dead body carried out by the waves during the umpteenth Mediterranean shipwreck. The besieged, kept at distance and rejected body across the European frontiers. The exotic body sold and bought within the sex market in the streets of our cities. The body dreaded and, therefore, denigrated, vilified, because perceived as a symbol of an otherness which is considered incompatible with the West. And, still, the subjugated, subaltern, racialized body. The silent, voiceless body of those who have been confronted with the horror and the unspeakable and that appears stripped, besides of its rights, of any human value. Bodies apparently relegated in the most hidden interstices of our modernity which actually ask for and induce at looking at the historical, political and social matrixes of the suffering that they are emblem of. But, at the same time, bodies which bring carved in the flesh uncomfortable memories which scatter moral and cultural horizons which we considered acquired. On the basis of the outcomes of various pieces of research in the field of migration carried out by the Author through the adoption of a biographical approach, this paper aims at reflecting on the role played by bodily images and widespread bodily social representations in shaping the perception and public reactions on refugees in contemporary Europe, by focusing in particular on the debate aroused since the emergence of the so-called refugee’s crisis. The aim is to provide a reflection on the processes of social construction of otherness in contemporary society through an approach which combines analysis of case-studies with theoretical social reflection.