DAY 3 - Mediterranean Encounters


The third day of the summer school has begun with the morning seminar by Samira Mechri, senior lecturer and coordinator of the MA in English and International Relations at the University of Tunis El Manar. Drawing on a cultural studies approach (based on the work of authors like James Clifford, Edward Said and Stuart Hall), the lecture has tried to examine three complex and interconnected issues such as mobility, encounter and enclosure.
Mobility is a multilayered and multidimensional phenomenon which includes a wide range of movements, motivations and categories (travel, tourism, migration, exile, expatriation, diaspora, pilgrimage, etc.). During the seminar, by an inspiring discussion between the professor and  the students, we have tried to define and to challenge some of them. Is there a difference between travel and tourism? And between migrants and expats? We realized we cannot draw a precise line between these different categories.



Mobility is also affected by power relations and the freedom to move is not equally guaranteed. As John Berger stated in his speech Fellow Prisoners, for many people the world has become a prison because in everyday life they experience exclusion through borders, gates, fences, walls and other means of enclosure.
On the other hand, the Mediterranean has been for centuries a place of encounter and common heritage, crossed by different kinds of mobility, i.e. the Arabs in Sicily and Spain, the Italian fishermen in “Small Sicily” in la Gouletta (Tunisia), the European and American travellers and flâneurs in Italy, Greece and Morocco etc.
Nowadays, especially in the aftermath of the Tunisian Revolution, on the shores of the Mediterranean there are unexpected encounters, between tourists and “irregular” migrants (harraguas). Very popular touristic destinations, like Lampedusa and Zarzis, have also become icons of human tragedy, where leisure and suffering are interconnected. However, migration is not one way traffic (from the South to the North). Today, Tunisia and Italy are both countries of departures, arrivals and transits.



In the afternoon, we met Ali and Rimaz, members of the association “Sparks15” which helps refugees and migrants to learn English in order to find a job or to study at the University. In a fruitful moment of exchange, they also talked about their own experience as young migrants living in Malta and how they manage their cultural diversity in this social context.



Finally, we went to Birkirkara to visit TheMill - Art, Culture and Crafts Centre founded by Gabriel Caruana, one of the most important contemporary Maltese artists. There, his daughter Raffaella showed and explained the work of his father and introduced us to the rich artistic scenery in contemporary Malta. Afterwards, we met Norbert Bugeja, co-coordinator of the Mediterranean Institute at the University of Malta and general editor of the Journal of Mediterranean Studies. Norbert is not just a scholar but he is also a renowned poet and he outlined the history of Maltese poetry from its origins until now, focusing on the postcolonial literature production. At the end, he read, both in Maltese and in English, a few of his poems from the book “South of the Kasbah”, giving us a taste of the hybridity of the Maltese language.

DAY 2 - Touring the maltese history

"The anthropologist as tourist" is the title of a wellknown article by Malcom Crick. A provokative title, indeed. Even if we have strong arguments to demostrate to what extent anthropology is not a kind of tourism, we have to admitt that sometimes anthropologists are tourists. For example, today. 
The second day of our summer school offered us the chance to visit the capital city of Malta, La Valletta, and the walled city of Vittoriosa (actually the first city built on the island by the Saint John's Knights) with an exceptional tour guide, Christine Muscat. Muscat is a professional guide, but also a reputed historian. As she told us introducing the walking tour, she studied anthropology and conducted extensive researches in the archives of Malta in order to retrace a peculiar and forgotten aspect of the local history: the story of prostitution during the XVII-XVIII centuries. Her last book about this topic, "Public Women. Prostitute Entrepeneurs in Valletta, 1630-1798", has been recently published and draws an intriguing portraits of city "from below". 


Following Christine's steps and listening her fascinating stories, we discovered some of the most beutiful buildings and streets of La Valletta: from St. John's Cathedral to the Grand Master's Palace, from the Barrakka Gardens to the many Auberges of the Knights. One of the most typical features of the maltese architecture are the gallerjas, a kind of wodden balconies painted with brilliant colours, whose origins are related to the moorish style.


In the afternoon, we crossed the Grand Harbour by ferry-boat and reached the historical town of Vittoriosa (also known as Birgu). Here we learned a lot about the legacy of the Knights of Malta and the role that their tiny island has been played for centuries as crossroad of the trades, fights and encoutners in the Mediterraneans. A story that today relates also to tourists and migrants.


DAY 1 - Welcome to Malta! Merħba f'Malta!

Our summer school has finally begun! The first sesssion was hosted today by the Mediterranean Institute in a very peculiar building that used to be a rural farm: a stone house surrounded by caper plants, prickly pears, mint in truly Mediterranean landscape. 
Here Rachel Radmilli, from the University of Malta, briefly introduced the wide range of activities and researches carried out by the Institute. It was also the right moment to remember Paul Claugh, an esteemed anthropologist who greatly contributed to the Mediterranean Institute. He was a specialist in the field of anthropology of migration and suddenly passed away this summer: the first edition of the Meditherity summer school is dedicated to him.


Students were then engaged in a unusual exercise to better know each other: instead of the usual self-presentation, they had 20 minutes of time to interview one of their classmates and present her/his portrait to the class. It was really surprising to hear how many different stories, experiences and aims prompted such a heterogeneous group of people to join the summer school and reach Malta! 
In the last part of the session, Francesco Vietti, from the University of Milan Bicocca, outlined a short overview of the theoratical background of the first edition of the summer school. He picked up some basic concepts from the works of James Clifford, Arjun Appadurai and John Urry to illustrate how the so called "mobility turn" could be applied also to the study of the heritage making process. The Mediterranean offers a lot of ethnographic contexts to observe the (un)expected encounters between local communities and different kinds of travelers, tourists and migrants. The final remark was about the attention we have to pay to the permanent inequalities, differential power and hierarchies that characterizes the "regimes of mobility" in contemporary world.


We concluded the first day of the summer school enjoying a welcome dinner provided by the local Migrant Women Association: Khadija told us a little bit of her personal story and presented us the varius syrian dishes she had prepared for us. Last but not least: Ana Rosa Louis, the youngest lecturer of the school, set up a pop-up exhibition of drawings, pictures and paintings in the courtyard of the Mediterranean Institute. 

Tourists and migrants: (un)expected encounters in the Mediterranean

Cultural heritage is commonly thought as a product of the longstanding link between people and their own territory. But, as James Clifford shown us, in our contemporary world culture and identity are associated to "routes" as much as to "roots". We are prompted to recognize that different kinds of mobility and flows are closely connected to the global dynamics of place making.



The Mediterranean is one of the most significant areas where we can observe this phenomenon. Here the constant movement of tourists and migrants across both sides of the sea in the last decades has been producing several (un)expected encounters. On the beaches of Lesvos and Kos as in the ethnic neighborhoods of Marseille and Barcelona, in the "Sea Memory Museum" of Zarzis as at "Porto M" of Lampedusa, the clear cut border between tourism and migration is contested and vanished.
In order to follow the paths of this "heritage on the move" we can combine different fields of studies and manage a variety of approaches, ranging from engagement in theoretical debate to application of our skills in innovative projects.
The main aim of the Summer School is to improve the knowledge of the participants in the anthropology of mobility and heritage and their capacity to develop a fruitful cooperation with private and public agencies.
The Summer School will be divided in sets of lessons and activities including: analysis of theoretical and methodological tools; presentation of case studies with an ethnographic approach; visits to specific places and institutions engaged in migration and tourism in Malta.

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