“At the end of the 1990s, as a result of the diasporas produced by new wars and new forms of colonialism, boats, rubber dinghies, and wornout ships started sailing in the direction opposite to that of colonial times: people emigrating from North Africa steered toward the closest Mediterranean shores, especially to the Italian island of Lampedusa, the southern gate to Fortress Europe. The reaction of the European nations in the Mediterranean region has been to erect a series of virtual yet impenetrable walls and borders, all created in the name of sovereignty, thus violating the international agreement on human rights ratified by the European Court in 1951. (…)

Activists and artists have begun to focus their attention and work on borders, national divides, and class and gender inequalities, and by now it is clear that migrants, rebels, oppressed women, and “mongrels” who keep on moving, notwithstanding the erection of walls, offer a perspective through which “citizens” can begin to perceive postcolonial, neopatriarchal violence. In doing so, these “others” inspire the disruption of dividing lines. Together activists and border-crossers teach how to resist passivity and produce el mundo zurdo, lateral or “left-handed” knowledge/understanding/conocimiento. Translinguistic and transcultural artivism shows the exclusion of diasporic migrant subjects, atravesados, oppressed women, and rebels from the still-patriarchal nation-state formation, but at the same time this artivism is a tool to make visible the invisible: the illegals, the violated, the multitudes on the move, the new European fronterizos, or “clandestines,” in Italy bring attention to the politics and poetics of borders.”

excerpt of the article Medi-terranean Borderization, by Paola Zaccaria, in Signs, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Autumn 2011), pp. 10-18

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