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Women, Migration and Precarity Author(s): Manuela Coppola, Lidia Curti, Laura Fantone, Marie-Hlne Laforest and Susanna

Poole Source: Feminist Review, No. 87, Italian Feminisms (2007), pp. 94-103 Published by: Palgrave Macmillan Journals Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30140803 . Accessed: 26/07/2013 03:14
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87

women, migration and precarity


Manuela Coppola,Lidia Curti, Laura Fantone, Marie-HelIne Susanna Poole Laforest, abstract
This focus group took place at the Universita di Napoli 'L'Orientale' and was structured around recent female migrationpatterns in the south of Italy. The discussion included academics, artists, and care workers.The condition of women in the two main contexts we discussed: work migrantswas seen as one of precarity and places of encounter. In an effortto move away from the purely material dimensionof migration and deal withits emotionaland creative sides, manyfacets of the question of being away fromhome and creatinga new home were fleshed out: expectations, defence mechanisms, nostalgia, stereotyping,racism, and multiculturalism. Participants raised a wide range of issues and proposed different perspectiveswhichalso point to largertensions and challenges in gender and race relations.

keywords
Southern Italy; migration;precarity;female work; race; integration

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Review. $30 www.feminist-review.com (94-103) @ 2007Feminist 0141-7789/07

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introduction
and precariousness wereaddressedin the Naples Issues of women's migration focusgroup, which wascentred onthesituation ofmigrant women inthesouth of and held in April2006 at the Universita di Napoli 'L'Orientale'. The Italy mostof themliving in Naplesbutcoming from different countries participants, and working in different fields(academic,graphics, creative charities, writing, ina women's theatre trade unions and carework), offered different prison, very and theoretical contributions to thediscussion. Inthisfocusgroup, the personal needfor a dialogue between theacademicworld and women inthelocal involved contextof migration was strongly asserted. Migrant womenare oftenonly as thedetached inItaliansocial research, notinvolved presented objectofstudy artists or political activists. ThearticlebyLidiaCurti in this as writers, actively issue offers a detailedcritique of the current in which ways manyemerging and writing in Italy, are patronized authors, migrant living bycritics. Following this idea, and drawing from cultural and post-colonial feminist, studies,the but also through various dialoguetook shape notjust as a verbaldiscussion, media: poetry artist reading, drawings (by Colombian AngelaBernal, published hereintheOpen andtwovideos:oneshowing a theatre in Space section), project a women's in described Susanna Poole's and a second video (as prison article), on multi-lingual bySara Marinelli. story-telling Participants: Nirmal Puwar (GoldsmithCollege, London/Feminist Review); Lidia Curti di Napoli'L'Orientale'); Gaia Giuliani di Bologna);Enrica (Universiti (Universita di Siena); Igiaba Scego (writer);GabriellaKuruvilla Capussotti(Universita ManuelaCoppola (Universita di Napoli'L'Orientale'); (writer); AngelaBernal di LauraFantone Julia (Universita (graphic designer); Lagaskaia(social worker); SusannaPoole (Universita di Napoli'L'Orientale'); Wioleta Napoli'L'Orientale'); CGILofficer); of Bath/Feminist Andall(University (FIsCAM Sardyko Jacqueline Marie-Heline Laforest di Review); (Universita Napoli 'L'Orientale');Sveva Magaraggia (Sconvegno). will LidiaCurti discussion focusontherelatively newpresence ofwomen (LC): Our in We are interested in how historical and territorial immigrants Italy. seeing act as the preconditions forthe acceptanceof migrants. Forms of patterns discursive are no less important dimension spaces,andtheimaginary hospitality, ofdailylife.Today, thanthematerial conditions wewish thecurrent to challenge uses of wordssuch as 'migrant', 'second generation', and 'citizen', 'native', in mind the tension between the desireto integrate and the desireto bearing cultural difference. preserve Thispremise of 'Whospeaksforwhom?'. givesriseto the important question Feminist Review has often had to face the issueoftheburden of representation,
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of howwe position As Assia Djebar,Trinh ourselves. Minh-ha and others have we mustlisten to others' voicesinstead ofspeaking for them: suggested, 'parler This becomes presde', speak nearby, dappresso. parlare particularly important now women from countries thatwe haveinourmidst different whose cultures we and write about. study

travelling, dreaming the West


in terms the issue of migration of ManuelaCoppola(MC): Wewishto explore but also in dream terms of and narration: desires and necessity, expectations beforedeparture and actual conditions lives can be upon arrival.Migrants' characterized and continuous that further movements by endlessdepartures, notions of and rootedness or create the of never condition complicate belonging 'at home'. We discuss intend to how the tensions between for feeling nostalgia the past and the needsofthe present are negotiated, in particular, possibilities fora space of self-representation formigrant women. Howdo they travelinto another and another culture? language, outofcuriosity, notoutof necessity: I wanted (WS): I lefthome Sardyko Wioleta to discover the and how it I I worked. Once was realized itwas here, Italy, Mafia, better to stayawayfrom it. ForPolish women likeme it has beeneasierto enter as Polandis nowa EUcountry, while others needa work and so they Italy permit, are often undocumented and livea lifeof uncertainty. back and forth is Going also a problem: children are abandoned their mothers a for time. by migrant long are 'lost' in the meantime and it takes timeto rebuild them. Relationships it is thewomen whomigrate. Julia Europe, Lagaskaia (JL):Inthecase of Eastern Menaccept women's and end up becoming economic This generosity parasites. leads to many mendo notrealizethesacrifices women are marriage break-ups: As forchildren, is really evenwhen thereis the making. traumatic, separation to join the mother lateron. opportunity IgiabaScego(IS): As a Somali,I can say thatafterliving through dictatorships and poverty abroadis thesolution inourimaginary. AsTrinh has suggested, going one ought to createspaces fornarrating oneself inthe hostcountry. This space does notexist within and neither are we represented inthe Italian my community media. I feelparticularly closeto thequestion (GK): I'mIndo-ltalian. Gabriella Kuruvilla of second-generation When I of I think of my father. migrants. speak 'travelling' The abandonment of one's country is not an addition, it's a subtraction. The other is the country of desireas the immigrants' children don'tknow it country and idealizeit. I feela cultural with father's due to their discontinuity my family theirhistory; language, theyare whatI didn'tbecome.As formyfather, why didn'the talkto me about his land?Why didn'the teach me his language?
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hasn'tyour father jL: Why taught youhis language? GK:Certainly to better mychancesof integration. Marie-Helene Laforest (MHL): I wouldlike to pick up two points:whydoes Gabriella feel she has to call herself a second-generation It's an migrant? an oxymoron. Hermother is Italian,herfather she was word, Indian, imported born Thisterminology is often extended to thirdhere,so she is nota migrant. and fourth-generation When does one a migrants. stop being migrant? Thesecondpoint is thatthesearch forone'sroots, which can become obsessive, mustbe studied within it seemsto be proportional to the level countries; single Ifyoufeelalien,it is becausethe other of racism encountered. Italiancitizens consider a We should consider the that you stranger. hypothesis the need to searchforone's rootsis more acute forthe migrants whodo nothaveEuropean phenotypes. Bernal ofsecond-generation (AB):Thenotion Angela particularly migrants caught I attention. do not think it's fair for like to criticize her Gabriella my people I was disturbed her words. She is the of a mother too. parents. by daughter I am SouthAmerican: from the subjugation of the continent some marvellous as well. Of the is for all there is course, past imaginary things emerged migrants: or a real relation with one's country. no longer a day-to-day WhatI wantedto addresswas the GK: I didn'tmeanto soundrecriminatory. in favour of integration. abandonment of one's origin Maybeit's a complete is a human but to abandon one's double one's nature, need; identity primordial which in return to Indiawas a return to an imagined country, trip greatloss. My the end remained unknown, impenetrable. the journeys involve a lot of mixings, Nirmal Puwar(NP): Although hybridity, thisdoesn'tmeanthat in newsenses of belonging, creations of newcultures, butalso as partof the thatthereisn'talso loss and pain,notsimply personal, or second if calls themselves So someone environment. migrant political the discursive about than Italian,that tells us something rather generation, as migrants, invite available.Weoften peopleto speakonly spaces we'remaking second more thanjust migrant, butthey're Indian, Somali, they're generation, the consider about our narrations and we need to think and therefore Italian, violence produce. theymight symbolic ofthose thepoint ofview from butnotonly Weneedto 'narrate MHL: migration', from thosewhohave narrations thatofthe natives, butfrom whohavemigrated thosewhohave within and racistdemons dealt with thexenophobic themselves, Richhas said, to be disloyal to their civilization. as Adrienne had the courage, Enrica Capussotti(EC): In my opinionwhat emergesis the question of on ourrecent and we mustreflect Weshouldconfront history intersubjectivity.
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inthelarger and itscritical relation context ofEuropean racism our'colonialism' incontemporary Thatis whatI'mtrying to do in my own work to migration Italy. as a historian. we also needto ask what to voiceand narration, OA): In relation Jacqui Andall a number kindof space existsfornarration and self-narration. of Recently, the texts have been second but members of generation, published by important about whatalternative we also need to think spaces could or shouldbecome available.

female work: in homes, in the street


women inthe informal of care often work LauraFantone (LF): Migrant economy sex work. Both are and or areas in terms of visibility legality grey yetthey giving some differences. are some women so readily channelled to care present Why work to age and skincolour? What or prostitution mechanisms define according hierarchies effects? ethnic with Another what women, among migrant interesting and domesticity. women enter aspect of care is relatedto intimacy Migrant Italian homeswiththeir'different', racializedbodies,or theyhave intimate with Italianclients. and fearsdoes thiscloseness contacts What kinds of desires kinds of control create?What and power Italian relationships developbetween women? and migrant from the East,migration caused byeconomic is always need. jL: Forus, coming When a woman she endsup intheworkforce as a seasonalagricultural migrates orcare giver. of control There are elements and oppression in worker, prostitute, Theworkers' domestic to is the obedience a refusal of labour. response required cultural assimilation. woman WS:Every has herownhistory, with heremotions, heritinerary. A unique view is of therefore be What must denied is the not of point impossible. strength women: those who leave a source and become of income for migrant everything thefamily haveleftintheir butproduce wealth forItaly too. I have they country, comeand started as a cleaner and it was humiliating. ThenI developed working someself-defence; I am notashamed I domestic work do from time to anymore, work forthetradeunion, where I haveforms of time,and it is the same as my solidarity. Gaia Giuliani thatthere is a form of agency notjust in domestic (GG): I believe buteveninsexwork andtrade.Many women must their labour, migrant negotiate lives between in easterncountries and a different male chauvinism form of chauvinism them. byItalianmentowards when WS:Only move onto another prostitutes job and get ridoftheir protectors, can they decideto return to prostitution, butthey be expelled freely might just
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when would be on their is a lackofcontinuity wayto integration. they yes,there in projects not enough and services, and social operators are lefton funding, their ownto solveseriousproblems. MHL:We shouldalso consider the questionof choice. Some women may be their future sex work. Then what about the end ofthe demand planning through issue?Very littleis availableon the Italianclients of theseprostitutes. IS: To speak of migration meansto speak of sacrifices beingmade by all. Relations with one'sownchildren are puton hold;they are sentto institutions or A child to their countries of origin. whohas grown in and is then sent to up Italy Somaliawillcommit suicide.There is a civilwarthere. do not have relationships Lovetoo is put on hold.Thewomen with the locals. A book byAmaraLakhous offers an excellent of this situation: a description Peruvian woman fatter and fatter. The onlyfreedom she has is that of grows down herbody.This food,it's the only wayshe can be in contactwith gorging to many Somaliwomen. also happens I havetried as a writer to enter thisworld a story Regarding prostitution, through I know set in Romeand inthe East,butit was hardto write. thatmany Somali heardit said so often women fitthe stereotype that 'cheap and clean'. They've end it and accept becoming prostitutes. they up believing or paysex workers, there's NP: About the research on menwhouse sex workers called JuliaO'Connell Davidsonwho has done a lot of someonein England research on thissubject. international in Italy. about the powerof the Church Susanna Poole (SP): I was thinking of migrant sex workers as passive influences the stereotyping Catholic morality idea of sexual contribute to their the Catholic and victims, guilt may that the Church a lot of the The issue here is burden. organizes psychological who decide to women social aid availableto undocumented escape prostitution. are based on control: a sex trafficking LF: Italianpoliciesaimed at reducing to in for information that can lead a stay permit exchange woman is granted strict control She is thenkeptunder ortrafficker. legalcharges againstherpimp she her In and who relocate her the case, supposedly grant security. any by police someone else. and physically is stillsymbolically upon dependent at the as a prostitute is to admitworking WS:Thedifficult step fora woman how know to do hard:policeofficers is very Theensuing questioning policeoffice. Ifthewoman is on herownshe maynotbe able to go it buthaveno sensitivity. it. with through associates prostitution with GG:Thestate, as a 'moralinstitution', immorality. and erosion ofthesocial is theprivatization whatlies behind carework Similarly, actor. state - in the end,the state is the greathidden
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in paid care workby female JA:Therehave also been hugetransformations bothrecentcentre-left and in Italy.We need to ask ourselves why migrants for this and facilitate have to migration centre-right governments sought protect of migration to Italyare quiteunusual. the characteristics Today, typeof work. models of withdifferent of nationalities Thereis a vast number present, national attributable to the settlement forindividual periodof partly groups, in Italy orthesex balanceofspecific the term arrival 'badante'for Thus, groups. more a new of newterm is a relatively caregiver and,perhaps type significantly, this kind of care work for the in Female elderly doing Italy. migrants occupation domestic workers of the can be even moreisolatedthansome of the live-in 1970s. scheme: no are partofthestate'ssavings MHL: Asfor thewomen they caregivers, homes have been built for the ageing populationand the state nursing and Thishas createdethnic caretakers. of live-in contributes to the payment hierarchies. occupational gender-based one forthe fewfamilies twowomen, has no timelimits; WS:Caregiving employ the whole which creates for of them work one the Most and day, night. day in is here there and Besides,especially Naples, precarity dependence passivity. of illegalworkers. and the competition from whomigrated to cities I am thinking, for ofwomen JA: CapeVerde, example, women inNaples interviews with likeNaplesinthe 1970s.Lastyear, CapeVerdean was under as desired workers showedthat theirprevious threat, job security different because of the presenceof new migrant migration groupspursuing of already and leading to a constant acquired rights. strategies, renegotiation Their EC: I have interviewed Italianwomen. viewsof Eastern European migrants even are full of stereotypes: are moredocile, feminine, less modern, they ofthe husband-hunters. Thisimagebrings backthecolonial imaginary dangerous 'other' woman as a sexualmenace.Thismeanswe mustrethink ourownculture.

precarious space: non-encounter

places of encounter/

MHL: themigrant' is oneofthetopicsweare supposed to address inthis 'Hosting session. as Today,the EU and nationalmigration policiescan no longerbe defined but as rather resistant to The hospitable, migration. changesthat havetaken intoFortress butcondition thosewhoalready place notonlylimit entry Europe, have a lifehere.Migrants are barely the relations tolerated, only beingthose between local menand immigrant women. Thepublic spaces are separatespaces and thereare many is worsening. signsthatthe situation
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SP: The main problem is the Italian state's indifference to any practiceof intercultural in southern are almost politics, Here, especially Italy. migrants if as the had not been transformed their Some invisible, city by growing presence. ofthecity's Thespace outside open-air spaces havebeenappropriated bythem. the central trainstationon Sundays and Thursday afternoons is takenup by EasternEuropeanwomen.This urbanspace suddenly takes on a different appearance and meaning.Whereelse can they meet? We do not have multicultural has attempted. policieslikethosethat England MHL:I'm notsureI agreewith the notion thatthe state has to createad hoc the Italiansgo? meeting spaces. Shouldn't they go where IS: Thisis true,butifwe think thatgoing to thecinemameansspending C7.50, thequestion becomes an economic one and it is also linked to theamount offree timeone has. Then of course there are other to overcome, barriers themigrant's I work mistrust. with of second-generation in a creative children a group writing class. They tellmethatthey senseItalians' andthat'swhy tendnot hostility they to socializewith them. aboutghettoization and self-ghettoization. There is a lack LC:youare speaking of common thereis racism, butthe immigrants to spaces, and certainly prefer their free time with from their countries of spend people origin. NP: I wouldn't havethesespaces. Atfirst, saythatwe inEngland peoplestarted in theirhomes,but slowly theirgatherings to started they buypublicspaces It's very themselves. if you createyour different owngathering or if someone ifyouhaven't givesit to you.Moreover, gotthe money youcan't go to certain on And of don't feel in the cafes comfortable that, places. top maybeyou becauseyoumaybe sickof beingseen as the stranger. oneself havehad to be fought for.In the past,the public JA: Spaces to express of and ethnic minorities to be dangerous was considered as gathering migrants can be seen inthe state's treatment of the Caribbean Hill carnival. But Notting over time,the situationcan change. Nowthere is a fightfor control and of the carnival the grassroots between in Notting Caribbean carnival ownership Hilland the one organized of London at the same timein Hyde bythe mayor Park! in multiculturalist SP: I stillthink thatwith all the racism the policies, implicit in Britain In situation of migrants is much better here. other cultures than Italy in schoolsforinstance, and above all in the media. have littlevisibility, to migration in Italyis the that occursin relation JA:One aspect of racism to theirattempts forworkbut a strong reaction to acceptanceof migrants inhabit visiblepublic spaces.
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the gay and lesbianworld in Milan has conquered (SM): Even SvevaMagaraggia to create sense of a Then,many community. separated, spaces, necessarily more accessible to have become at first GLBT, everybody. Only exclusively places, in thissecondphase has therebeen institutional acknowledgement. thesocial centres inMilan. havebecome GK:I havein mind meeting places They and locals,maleandfemale.Butit is a microcosm for different migrants groups, of whatlies outside;the same stereotypes blacks,women, reappear regarding etc. for the celebrations WS The Neapolitan citycouncil,for instance,organizes in But few other festivals. and a generalforeign Senegalese independence, with Italians. all the timeand have no timeto createfriendships women work their fellow littlefreetimewith country people. They spendtheir inRome, I don'tfeel station IS: When I find ina public myself space likethetrain which likeme.Then there are chatlines, are others likea foreigner. There forums, are also waysof socializing. is political WS:Perhaps theonly to gainvisibility participation through possibility spokespersons. of having forthe IS: I have seriousdoubtsaboutthe possibility spokespersons in council in we have elected our the Rome municipal community: representatives don't all of us. There butmost and ofthesepeoplehavea sinister represent past is a Somalicommunity, butthere havebeentribal and so peopleassociate wars, on a tribalbasis. NP: I see a tendency to impose the national modelon a community, assuming thatthese peopleare a littlenationin the country. we shouldfocuson Maybe In England, issuesthatall migrants can share,likeanti-colonialism. we havea lot of community I and don't want to be associated with ofthem. leaders, many GK:I find theword A community couldbecomea nation community frightening. within thenation, one can be but where that existonly becauseit oneself, spaces is impossible to havean identity elsewhere. whatSusannasaid, butI wouldalso liketo connect to Nirmal. LC: I agreewith There is an impressive movement backwards in bothEngland and Italy. There has been strong criticism of the false notionof multiculturalism but I wouldbe careful notto dismiss theidealofsolidarity, ofthepossibility of living positively within diversity.

author

biographies

ManuelaCoppolais a member of the Centre 'Archivio delle donne',Universita di and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Universita Napoli'L'Orientale', della Calabria.
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Lidia Curtiis honorary Professor of Englishat the Universith di Napoli 'L'Orientale'. LauraFantone herdoctoral research in 'Cultural Studies and recently completed Post-Colonial Literatures' at the Universita di Napoli'L'Orientale'. Susanna Poole is an English di Napoli languageteacher at the Universit& 'L'Orientale'. Marie-Helene Laforest is a writer and Professor of Postcolonial Literatures at the Universith di Napoli and director oftheCentre della donne.' 'L'Orientale' 'Archivio
doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr. 9400363

Manuela Coppola et at

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