Transnationalizing Lampedusa
: representing migration in Italy and beyond

  • Iacopo Colombini

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis explores the transnational dimension of Lampedusa, and how its symbolism can be used to address questions of identity and subjectivity in the cultural representation of migration. By examining the initiatives of the Archivio delle Memorie Migranti, the self-organised refugee group Lampedusa in Hamburg, and the Lampedusa-based Collettivo Askavusa, this work defines Lampedusa as a floating signifier. The discussion of the discursive formations composing what I defined, drawing on Benjamin, as the ‘Lampedusa transnational constellation’ highlights the centrality of cultural practices in affecting hegemonic representations of migration. This thesis recognises that the marginalisation of migrant and refugee voices in the public debate on migration is also partially reflected in the cultural projects that attempt to restore the agency of these individuals. The production and collections of new films, exhibitions, memories focusing on migrant deaths, passage and presence on Lampedusa, from the perspective of migrants themselves, are therefore considered playing a fundamental role, but are not seen as a straightforward solution. This works emphasises the importance of analysing the ‘moment of production’ of these cultural products, proposing forms of participant observation and multi-sited ethnographic work as a means to directly engage with the questions of race, identity, and positionality embedded in cultural practices focusing on migration.
Date of Award27 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorDerek Egerton Duncan (Supervisor)


  • Lampedusa
  • Cultural studies
  • Stuart Hall
  • Lampedusa in Hamburg
  • Postcolonial Italy
  • Transnationalism
  • Collettivo Askavusa
  • Archivio Memorie Migranti

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