Migrant Bodies and Social Representations: A Theoretical Framework

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 19:45
Oral Presentation
Massimiliano RUZZEDDU, University Niccolo Cusano Rome, Italy
Management of contemporary migration crises -especially those that, in the very last years, have been taking place in the Mediterranean context both from East and South- characterize for a high number of variables: as a matter of fact, very little information is available, especially in the early phases of any migration crisis, about the migrants’ histories, juridical condition and actual needs. Even more blurred is their health condition: the objective problems in facing large masses’ clinical risks, turn heavier due to the communication gaps among actors with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

One more cause of uncertainty is the interaction with hosting populations: very often natives show attitude of deep rejection and fear for their own safety and their families.

While it is quite clear that the deep reason of this hostility is essentially economic, most social representations of migrants openly refer to the bodily dimensions and involve two main domains: health and violence.

Health: rough displacement conditions, as well as accommodation in badly equipped centers, has often generated the belief that migrants and refugees are more likely to contract illness and generate epidemics, which might involve even local populations.

Violence: the idea that migrants and refugees stems from patriarchist, non-democratic and archaic cultures, generate the belief that they are more likely than natives to be responsible for violence deeds, especially against women.

This paper aims at describing the most common representations about bodily aspects of migration phenomena and comparing them with medical, epidemic and criminal data. Furthermore, systemic notions will be proposed, that might help tackling this gap of information in the management of migration crises.