Second Edition, DAY 9 - Arrivederci Lampedusa!

After nine days full of lectures, meetings, workshops and visits, the second edition of the Meditherity summer school is over. 

Now it's time to leave, it's time to say goodbye! Thank you to all the students and lecturers who took part to this unforgettable adventure! See you again in Lampedusa, or elsewhere in the world!

Second Edition, DAY 8 - In search of a Safe Port

The morning of the last day of our summer school was devoted to Giovanna Di Matteo's seminar about the intersection of memory, volunteering, migration and tourism on Lampedusa and Lesvos. Focusing on this topic by a geographical point of view, Di Matteo discussed how memory spaces are created and co-created through practices, lived experience and the engagement of a collectivity. We need to recognize the dynamicity of these spaces, which can be imbued with different meanings, being open to remembering and forgetting: sites and monuments can be reinterpreted; memorials can be controversial when publicly challenged and contested, thus calling into question the authority of the memorial as appropriate or not.  Another central aspect to consider when looking at the nexus between memory and heritage is the fact that tourism is a fundamental part of the emerging regimes of memory. Indeed, tourism plays a fundamental role into the process of creating, preserving and modifying memory and heritage sites.

After this interesting lecture, the PhD studentes enrolled in the summer school had the chance to present and discuss they own ongoing researches that they are currently carrying on. This was another important moment of our summer programme, an useful space for sharing and reflecting about the way young researchers could include in their fields an analysis of the combined impact of migration and tourism. 

During the afternoon, all the participants (lecturers and students) had free time to joing the celebrations for Our Lady of Porto Salvo, the patroness of Lampedusa, celebrated every year on September 22nd. 

This local feast, that has a strong spiritual meaning as well as a clear socio-political dimension, gave us the opportunity to look at the transformations that have reconfigured the popolar devotion to Our Lady of Porto Salvo over time as a prism through which to analyse the tensions between local dynamics and global forces that affect the island. The visit that Pope Francis paid to Lampedusa in July 2013 contributed significantly to the construction and global dissemination of the discourse about the hospitable, supportive and charitable spirit of the island. 

The exhortation to make Lampedusa a “safe port” for migrants represented the first step in defining the “Gospel of Welcome” that has characterised Bergoglio’s pontificate and was symbolically expressed through a specific prayer to Our Lady of Porto Salvo: "Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, Protector of migrants and itinerant people, you offer maternal assistance to the men, women and children forced to flee their lands in search of a future and hope".  Just as the Shrine of Cala Madonna has always offered protection and refuge, in Pope Francis' message the whole of Lampedusa must become a "sanctuary", a place of peace, justice, welcome and charity towards displaced people. 

Second Edition, DAY 7 - Reflections on (and from) the borderland

The seventh day of MeditHerity 2021 revolved around the subject of the borderland and it was conceptually driven by the morning lecture of Maria Pisani, from the University of Malta.

Although not always in plain sight, both migration and tourism as forms of human mobility are tigthly connected with the establishment and perpetuation of borders. The lecture of Maria Pisani delivered a broad understanding of what “border” might mean and she extended it from the immediate realm of history and politics to the very relationships that occur among humans. 

Humanity has always been a mobile species, yet the vocabulary, the issues and the circulation of “crises” and “emergencies” linked to human migration are relatively modern phenomena. Pisani connected these developments to the dawn of border-making policies, which are essentially linked to the appearance of the nation-state form of governance and social-cultural paradigm, first in Europe and then throughout the post-colonial world. “Societies and states are the product of bordering, not the other way around”, could be the recap line of the ways in which from one whole planet, much of humanity ends up grappling, to various degrees, with borderlands.

The lecture traced these developments by following the history of Malta, an insular country whose very position and historical legacy offers a unique window over the intersection of mobility issues – from ancient Mediterranean mobility to colonialism, through the construction of Malta as a modern nation-state, down to tourism and contemporary migratory flows. Maria Pisani stressed the contradiction at the heart of modern globalisation and political-economic system, for which the expansion of travel and technology corresponds to the hardening of international borders. At the same time, the stiffening of such “regimes of division” is not equally borne or experienced. Where tourists are given the privilege to unsee borders, by flying over them or having visa exemptions, migrants are confronted with criminalisation, precarity and, oftentimes, death.

The lecture of Maria Pisani invited us, however, to reflect on the idea of borders not only as a political and cultural fabrication, but also as a manifestation of the ways in which we establish relationships and subjectivities in our everyday conducts. Rather than conceiving persons, including ourselves, as pre-relational individuals we may recognise instead the multiple ways in which we are all always-already entangled. In the closing of her speech, Pisani made us reflect, in groups, on ideas that may allow one to overcome such borderland-thinking, such as the idea of love.

In the afternoon, we returned to discussing the concrete instances of migration in Lampedusa, with another session which included the Forum Lampedusa Solidale. We tried to apply the notions we elaborated with Maria Pisani and the stories and moments we experienced over the previous days through an artistic visual form – a collage of drawing and objects collected from the complex of the summer school – and especially through the composition of a short lyrical corpus, to be attached to the song Fischia il Vento a Lampedusa (“Blows the wind in Lampedusa”). In small groups, we composed a few lines for this music experiment. While on the surface it appeared to be a light or trivial activity, in fact the act of focussing on the possible verbal expression of the migratory experience was a touching and compelling moment that perhaps approximated the inter-subjective position which we discussed in the morning with Maria Pisani. 

Although vested as an occasion for socialisation and amusement, the session and the seventh day at large provided us with a unique chance to test the ordinary ways in which the “us” and “them” are commonly constructed, sometimes unwittingly, and it showed us how a social world that recognises relationality and empathy may look like.

Second Edition, DAY 6 - Heritage and Engagement

After a full free Sunday of relax, the sixth day of the summer school opened by introducing the theme of the process of patrimonialisation of tangible and intangible heritage, reflecting on how institutional and informal organisations approach the valorisation of heritage. The questions that guided this reflection are: What is heritage? Who decides what is? Who has the right to acquire it?

In the morning Camille Faucourt, curator of the ‘Mobility and Intercultural’ collections  at  Mucem,  Marseille,  highlighted  the social role of museums: they have informative and educational potential and an institutional task/mandate. Museums have the responsibility to choose what to acquire and what to exhibit. These choices implicate the offer a representation of a community and can contribute to shaping its identity. How to show and transmit this heritage, sometimes sensitive, to the museum's users?

If on the one hand the museum institution acquires ownership of the property and can thus return it to the population, on the other hand this process implies an ethical and political choice that informs an institutional vision on which it is necessary to question ourselves, every choice about what to make visible also implies overshadowing other possible representations. We had the opportunity to identify with the role of curators through the teamwork proposed by the lecturer, who put us in front of the question of what to show and how to insert it into a shared and co-constructed narrative.

If during the morning we were able to deepen the point of view of public museum institutions during the afternoon we were able to deal with projects that emerged from the commitment of civil society and constructed from below, which outside of institutional constraints assume the responsibility to perform the same function.

The first of these subjects is IBBY, an international organization thanks to which has been opened the first library on the island of Lampedusa. IBBY is not simply a space in which to read and borrow books, but a place where children learn how to take care of spaces and objects that are common goods and therefore do not belong to anyone in particular, but to the entire community. In order to overcome the linguistic and cultural barriers between new and old inhabitants of the island, is promoted the use of Silent Books, which avoid any kind of barrier. These books thus become a meeting space through which to travel and share, making children active readers. Unfortunately, the library's desire to be inclusive clashes with the denial of freedom of movement to new arrivals on the island, who are confined to the hotspot, children included.

The day ended in Porto M, where we met Giacomo Sferlazzo and attended his performance. The artist introduced  us to  the history  of the island through different artistic languages able to connect traditional expressive channels, such as puppets and 'u cuntu', with elements of contemporaneity. In addition to this, at PortoM it is possible to visit a room where a collection of objects - small but full of meanings - belonging to migrants who arrived on the island is set up. The work of collecting, restoring and displaying the objects curated by the artist together with the Askavusa collective aims to make visitors aware of the context and of the different ways of remembering the stories of people in search of better living conditions.

We therefore find ourselves reflecting on the ownership of objects, on their narration and on which discourses are constructed from them and in what modalities. What relationship exists between the institutional world and with that of lower-level productions? Which narratives are most capable of restoring objects to their own history?

Second Edition, DAY 5 - Free time!


Sedond Edition, DAY 4 - How to strike a balance?

On the 18th of September, the fourth day of the Summer School  MeditHerity - Mobility and Heritage in the Mediterranean started with the lecture of professor Stefano Malatesta. After it, we met Legambiente and Turtle Rescue members, and we found out some interesting points of contact emerging from these confrontations. First of all, the fact that insularity and isolation are not synonymous. 

Being on an island at the centre of the South-West, we realised that there are multiple borders and relationships. If politically, Lampedusa island fits Europe, geologically, it is part of the African plate.

The island presents itself as a system that acts as a connection point between different dynamics and flows. A complex system where the interaction between different agents, human and non-human, are in constant relation to each other. 

The island-system brings out the close and regular interconnections between people, animals, and the environment in its geographical limitation. Elements of an ecosystem in which limits and opportunities are in the sea, depending on the observer’s perspective. 

For this reason, we have perceived it as fundamental to find a balance functional to the coexistence, especially in an island context. In fact Lampedusa receives nourishment from the sea; it bases its current economic system on it; it interacts with the surrounding world through it. 

Observing the island’s reality and listening to the stories of the people who live and work on it, we realise that the interpretative tools and theoretical perspectives often risk being too limited to deal with the complexity of the multiple dynamics existing. As social scientists, we are aware of the gap between our theories and the worldview of the locals and how, in everyday life, categories are subject to a permeability that is not immediately identifiable. But, who has the right to be called ‘local’ in Lampedusa? We have met many people who are not natives but are, nevertheless, highly engaged in daily practice dynamics surrounding the island and/or its history. 

One of the aspects, and more generally of the language, that particularly struck us was the correlation between the concepts of ‘rescue’ and ‘emergency’ in their multiple meanings. Saving turtles, rescuing migrant people, and preserving the environment appear to be ethically and pragmatically inseparable elements of the island’s single image and attitude. 

If, on the one hand, we are shown the importance of taking care of the island because, through its rescue, the ecosystem can be maintained, on the other hand the island itself performs rescue actions towards the outside that can have repercussions on the internal balances.

In a context of limited size, it is also evident that there is a « double-edged » between accessibility and preservation, human dignity (of migrant people and/or workers) and tourist system, economy and environment. How to strike a balance? What are the elements worthy of consideration? Who has the right to set it? 

Second Edition, DAY 3 - Dehumanization and Empathy

In our opinion, Lampedusa is crossed by multiple contradictions, which have been highlighted by our interlocutors and are intertwined with the main themes of dehumanization and empathy. 

In the morning, we experienced how migrant flows and landings have highlighted this division in the local context. Forum Lampedusa Solidale (FLS) and Mediterranean Hope (MH) are the only group of people from the civil society allowed to be at the dock during the landings’ procedures. Paola, one of their members, describes their role at the dock as a political action against the dehumanization of migrant people entering Europe put in place by the institutional system and represented by the local security forces. In particular, Giovanni from Mediterranean Hope mentioned the high level of symbolic and physical violence present at the dock and how they try to negotiate and mediate the interactions with the new-comers. In fact, the Covid-19 emergency has worsened this problem due to the fact that migrant people cannot go out of the Hotspot as they did before, neither officially nor informally. The only place where they’re now able to meet the local population is at the dock just after disembarking. It is also for this reason that MH and FLS feel the need to give them a warm welcome upon arrival making them feel taken care of after their journey.

As Paola pointed out, it is common to define people on the move simply as migrants, denying their past and identity before their departure. Once arrived, they’re in fact mainly seen as a problem for security and considered as numbers. This narrative is contrasted by the practice of Forum Lampedusa Solidale actively trying to collect and share their stories, especially of those who lost their lives. This counter action manifests itself at the local cemetery, where only some migrants are buried and their stories are shared on descriptive signs on their designated graves. Most of them do not even have their name on it, but only their supposed date of death. This shows again the importance of building a memory against the threat of being erased or forgotten.

In the afternoon, we focused on youth mobility in Morocco, as presented to us through the research completed by Nadja Dumann. However, the same dichotomy - as lens to read the flows of unaccompanied minors to Europe – is still suitable taking the shape of the contrastive tendencies of protection and criminalization in relation to young migrants. 

Today’s experience has been emotionally charged and a lot of links can be found between the various examples. What we feel is one of the most valuable teaching to take with us and internalize is not only to share the story of Lampedusa, but also to reflect upon it in order to recognize the significance of empathy and apply it in other contexts of dehumanisation and Othering as well as our everyday lives.

Second Edition, DAY 2 - Coexistence and Connectivity

On the second day of the second edition of the Summer School "Meditherity: mobility and heritage in the Mediterranean", which takes place in Lampedusa, several vibrant themes emerged; one of the main issues addressed was that of coexistence.

Professor Albera who led the first lesson of the Summer School proposed a reflection on shared sacred spaces as places of connectivity and fragmentation.

The paradigmatic case of Lampedusa was located in the largest area of the Mediterranean, reminding us that "Lampedusa is not alone", thus classifying itself as neither an isolated case nor an exceptional one.

In fact, since the Neolithic Lampedusa has historically been at the center of trade, crossings, exchanges and flows that have determined its current social and ecological configuration.

This complexity is found in the role played by the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Porto Salvo as a place of interreligious coexistence also dictated by the need to adapt to the various historical and social conditions.

This, like many other shared places, not only affects physical space, but also implies the circulation of ideas, concepts, objects, cults and experiences. 

The history and myth that accompany the life of Andrea Anfossi - Ligurian sailor kidnapped by the Saracens, escaped their control and later miraculously returned to his native land - gives life to the cult of Our Lady of Lampedusa; it does not only imply a process of migration of the individual but also of the cult related to him. 

Andrea Anfossi's experience exemplifies the past and recent history of the island characterized by various forms of circulation and migration (human, faunal, plants) that deny the rhetoric of exceptionality and of Lampedusa as a remote, desert and archaic place.

The Historical Archive of Lampedusa that we were able to visit with the guide of the co-founder Fabio Giovanetti is a precious and significant testimony of this. 

Lampedusa is often narrated through the rhetoric of the emergency of migrants and also as a deserted and isolated place, even if in reality these descriptions are partial. 

On the contrary, the island is configured as an animated, populated and vibrant place, stratified by multiple stories of ancient and contemporary populations that have given life to this synergy.

This complexity is also found in the richness of the ecological heritage of the island ecosystem which is continuously regenerated. 

Second Edition, DAY 1 - Introduction: The Imagined Mediterranean

The Mediterranean goes beyond the confines of simple physical fact. Can we view the Med as an imagined space? And what role will perception play in many of the arguments that will be presented throughout the summer school? What is the Mediterranean to most of us: is it home, is it the home we are running away from or the home we are longing to return to? Is it a place we leave to transform ourselves and come back to as renewed bodies, via pilgrimage, tourism or migration? (Nadja Dumann, Stefano Malatesta and Diogini Albera will discuss these matters in detail). Ultimately, how do we ascribe meaning to the world around us?

The meaning that individuals and groups give to space and place provides an interesting dynamic. Studying these spaces allows us to gain insight into the different people’s world views and the sharing of spaces (or not!) leads to the creation of communities, many of which are also transient and at times in conflict (Maria Pisani and Dionigi Albera will speak about this and some of the activists too from the perspective of environment, tourism and migration). 

The sea has provided ample opportunities for trade by legal or illegal means, throughout history. Corsairs, pirates, and many traders have used the sea currents and central Mediterranean islands like Lampedusa, Malta, Sicily and Sardegna as safe harbours connecting the western to the eastern Mediterranean as well as north Africa to Europe…..a special axis that will most likely dominate much of our discussions here this week. In the words of David Abulafia (2011):

“Mediterranean history can mean many things. (T)his book is a history of the Mediterranean Sea, rather than a history of the lands around it; more particularly, it is a history of the people who crossed the sea and lived close by to its shores in ports and on islands. My theme is the process by which the Mediterranean became in varying degrees integrated into a single commercial, cultural and even (under the Romans) political zone, and how these periods of integration ended with sometimes violent disintegration, whether through warfare or plague”.

 These words are timeless, and could well apply to our contemporary reality. 

Looking towards tourism will combine many of the abovementioned strands to provide a context to discuss the socio-economic and socio-environmental impact of such movement of people and goods on local and environmental realities. Local(ised) consumption of the tourism product is leaving its mark on more sensitive ecologies (including human ecologies). The material culture we carry with us and leave behind, speaks of the stories of things-changing-hands. Of routes and journeys, of meaning and of emotion where value is ascribed to things and things are used to transact and build connections and relations via reciprocal exchange. This aspect of material culture and the transience it embodies is also of interest to Camille Faucourt’s session. Many of these strands will flow through the research that will be presented in Giovanna Di Matteo’s session discussing the research presented by our doctoral researchers here. 

(Except from Rachel Radmillli's Introduction to the summer school, Lampedusa, 15th September 2021)

Tracing past routes, engaging in present challenges, imagining possible futures

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.

First Edition, DAY 9 - Goodbye, see you soon! Saħħa, narak dalwaqt!

After nine days full of lectures, meetings, workshops and visits (plus a lot of fun!), the first edition of the Meditherity summer school is over. 

This morning a group of students paid a complementary visit to the small town of Marsaxlokk, in the south of the island, to take a look to the wellknow local Sunday Fish Market. Then, some of them, continued the day-trip till the megalithic temples of Ħaġar Qim: an astonishing place recognized by the UNESCO as a complex of "unique architectural masterpieces" in the context of the Mediterranean area.
Now it's time to leave, it's time to say goodbye! Thank you to all the students and lecturers who took part to this unforgettable adventure! See you again in Malta, or elsewhere in the world!

Here a short VIDEO by one of the students of the summer school, Amal, telling about her experience in Malta. 

First Edition, DAY 8 - A museum for cultures?

The last full-day of our summer school took place in an expceptional location in the heart of the historical city of Mdina: Palazzo Falson. It is a wonderful two-storey medieval palace fashioned on Sicilian examples of its period and hosts a huge collections of memorabilia belonged to Capt Olof Frederick Gollcher (1889-1962), the son of a prosperous shipping merchant of Swedish descent: Gollcher was an artist, scholar and philanthropist, but also a discerning collector of objets d’art and historical objects.  We visited the house-museum and got ready for the morning session of our programme: the Migrantour workshop.

In his introduction to the workshop, Francesco Vietti argued as cultural diversity related to global migration is a key element of tourism attractiveness through which many cities have managed to transform their multi-ethnic neighborhoods into places of leisure and consumption. This kind of urban tourism has often been portrayed in negative terms: many authors underlined how the process of gentrification excludes migrants from the economic and social benefits brought by tourism, while at the same time the reification of ethnic differences represents their cultural heritage in an exotic and over-simplistic way. 
Going beyond the interpretative level and embracing an applicative perspective, could anthropologists play a significant role in making the encounter between tourists and migrants within the cities less problematic? Vietti tried to answer this question discussing the results of a project that he has been coordinating for a decade: Migrantour is European network of 16 cities, started in 2009 and still going on, which has developed an innovative kind of “intercultural urban walking tour” designed and led by first and second-generation migrants. Therefore, responsible tourism is assumed as an ethical approach to envision a collaborative way to valorize the contribution that generations of migrants have made to the history of European cities.

During the workshop we experienced some of the tools developed by the Migrantour training course in order to design the intercultural itineraries within the cities of the network, e.g. the "mental mapping" of the places related to migration and mobility.
In the afternoon, the Phd students attending our summer school had the chance to present their ongoing researches to colleagues and lecturers. Gaspare Messana, Giulia Usai, Alessandra Turchetti and Edoardo Occa brought us in a quick journey through themes, metodologies and fields, from hospitaly in Sardinia to cotemporary art Morocco, from health care in Tanzania to poetry in the Mediterranean. Finally, Rachel Radmilli, from the University of Malta, outlined her own research about the wine sector in Malta. Our lecturers were really impressed by the high level of their presentations! 

First Edition, DAY 7 - Migration, heritage politics and the role of tourism

The seventh day of the summer school began with a morning lecture by Meghann Ormond, Associate Professor in Cultural Geography at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands.
After discussing the theoretical framework and the fundamental concepts of space, place and landscape we have explored the different connotations of heritage.
Through an interactive exercise we reflected upon the concept of heritage not only as it is often described by the dominant historical narratives and practices but also as an individual and collective present experience.

Following the innovative approach of Thrift and Massey we have tried to compare the dominant representation with our own experiences and we realized that our environments are both actively shaped by us and actively shaping us. This raised our awareness that memory is not a passive depository of facts and that heritage is more than monumental. It is an individual and collective sense of experience from the past and the use of this inheritance in the present (Robertson). 
This perspective allowed us to break away from the authorized heritage discourse that naturalizes hegemonic western elite cultural values and to start thinking about alternative narratives (Smith).
Professor Ormond showed us a practical application of these theories. Usually guidebooks fix people in space and time and tend to misrepresent, under-represent or overlook migrant communities. Her current work on the project “Roots Guide” aims at portraying a destination as it is seen through the eyes of migrants and at making people feel aware of a shared cultural heritage.
In the afternoon we had a really interesting class held by Virginia Monteforte and Isabel Farah from the Rima Project. Rima is an anthropological and artistic project born in 2014 in Malta with the aim of exploring the multifaceted aspects of migration, displacement and exile through a variety of creative activities. During the first half of the meeting they shared with us some of their most recent projects, most of which were theatre pieces or short films created in collaboration with artists, scholars and people who have experienced migration, in order to provide them with a space to make their voice heard.

One of these project was “To be [defined]” an artistic anthropological exhibition held in 2018 in La Valletta, that dealt with past and contemporary experiences  of displacement, using objects as its main tool and focus. 
During the second half of the afternoon we used some basic theatre exercises to experiment different ways of expressing ourself and communicating with the others. We worked especially on our body language and how it is possible to communicate effectively just by paying attention to the space surrounding us and the position of our bodies. We ended the day discussing briefly the meaning of the word “home” for us and sharing our views about the objects we connect to mobility and migration.

First Edition, DAY 6 - Migration and Maritime Culture

On the sixth day of the summer school, the participants had a lecture by Jutta Lauth Bacas, Research Affiliate at the Institute of Mediterranean Studies, University of Malta. She has more than 15 years of experience conducting research about migrants in the Island of Lesbos, Greece.

During her presentation, Jutta explained about her participant observation methodology on clandestine arrivals and reception of undocumented boat migrants. She focused on a comparative analysis between the Greece and Turkish immigration interactions and how the efforts from both countries, including police, migration control, and NGO’s managed the border and handles the migrants.
Hundreds of migrants found either in the sea and/or land were welcome to the Lesbos camp by responsible authorities in the island. A detailed registration system was in place in the camp to avoid any refugees escaping the premises. Their names were translated from English to Greek. Meanwhile, there was a challenge translating their names back from Greek to English if requested documents arrived, and this linguistic difference created problems with receiving immigration authorities.
Greece is strongly supporting migrants providing them with food, clothing, and access to their basic needs; one of the programs sponsored by the United Nations, deposits 100 euros in their bank accounts to help them survive in the foreign land. The migrants are allowed to apply to the refugee status, if it is granted they will be allowed to live in Greece but if not, they are welcome to appeal the decision, after another rejection the migrants are not allowed to appeal, therefore, they have to leave the country.

In the afternoon, the students arrived at the Malta Maritime Museum after their lunch at the University of Malta and the Valletta City. They had opportunity to attend a guided tour conducted by Ivan Cocker, a technician of the Malta Maritime Museum. During the visit in the museum students and lecturers had the pleasure to learn about the boats’ history in Malta and the international trade and exchange of good and services among players in the Mediterranean.

First Edition, DAY 5 - Sharing Seeds, Sharing Life: A participatory action research project

The fifth day of our Summer School begun in Mdina, the former capital city of Malta, where professors Mario Gerada and Maria Pisani led us to the XVII century Carmelite Priory; it has a cloister with a number of citrus trees and other aromatic trees, herbs and flowers related to the idea of the Garden of Eden, both to Christian and Muslim tradition where Eden represents a place of harmony where people can leave without violence. In the center of the priory there is an octagonal well which symbolizes Jesus. The miracle of water turning in to wine and in the gospels is also related to the idea of water which allow mankind to reach eternal life. Maria Gerada and Maria Pisani started inside the priory a project named "Sharing Seeds, Sharing Life" where they used herbs and flowers to speak about people who move creating parallels within the movement of people and of plants both changing the environment around them.

The project has been inspired by the teams of Rene Girard who developed the mimetic theory which says that our desires are not our own but an imitation of those of the people around us and for this reason people developed envy, rage and violence as narrated in the biblical of Kain and Abel and in many other ancient myths.
Mario Gerada told us that the use of herbs and plants in man's culture brings back the idea of the Eden, the dream of living back in harmony because the language of flowers reflects people's identity and this ideas led to construct his project of ethnobotanics to better integrate migrants in Malta's detention camp where people despite being restricted continue to have desires and projects for their lives. They bought some aromatic plants and brought them to the detention center to the people living there, making them meeting and discussing their diverse cultural uses of those herbs contributing therefore to create links among the different Peoples in the camp helping them to build, sharing experiences and little reciprocity of being systems (Sahlins) so that they can experience some sense of community even in detention.

After the delicious snack offered by the priory we moved to the Church of Nativity of our Lady -ta'Giezu - a francescian XVI century friary in Rabat which has an internal cloister with a variety of plants as well an external garden where the friars practice permaculture, an agricultural ecosystem intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient, with the purpose to create living environments that are harmonious, sustainable and productive while using the work and the energy to maintain them.
In the afternoon we gathered in the premises of the Mediterranean Institute, where we would attend an Art Workshop led by Ana Rosa Louis. It started with a presentation of her experience in Camini, Italy, volunteering to help the refugees.  The presentation provided a series of experiences, thoughts and feelings related to the journey, inviting the viewer to create a picture of the current situation in the village; a mix of colors, the daily life of a volunteer, the heartfelt and sincere moments of solidarity and humanity mixed with the difficulties met along the way.
The activity continued with a drawing exercise; in a blank sheet of paper we were asked to draw a very bizarre ritual, a story which fits in a card in order to break down the barriers of otherness, how to understand and create new cultures. At first there was a certain block: “What do I draw?”, then hands started to loosen, and pictures started to form. After the relaxing exercise we talked about the meaning of our cards and shared the experiences of the stories behind our drawings.

First Edition, DAY 4 - Migration and tourism: old question, new problems

The fourth day of the summer school has begun with the morning seminar by Daniela DeBono Senior Lecturer in International Migration and Ethnic Relations at the department of Global Political Studies at the Malmö Institute for the Studies of Migration,Welfare and Diversity.
The lecture was based on a reflection on the ambiguity of the international legislative system which, while recognising the universal right to emigration, is not so clear about to the related right to immigrate to another country
The lesson was focused on DeBono's research theme: the restrective policies applied for humans - but not for goods and capitals - of Schengen's area represented by the idea of "Fortress Europe", with particular reference to the Italian context and specifically to the Sicilian one (Agrigento, Palermo, Trapani e Lampedusa). The management of migration flows in Italy is structured through different devices that regulate access to the possibility of entry into the national territory. From the hotspot in Lampedusa, the main point of disembarkation in Italy, migrants are directed to other ports in the region of Sicily where they are included in the "sistema di accoglienza".
DeBono's accurate reflection shows how this, translated into English as "welcome, reception or hospitality", does not recognize the full status of humanity to migrants. This lack of respect for the dignity of human life has recently led to exasperation through the criminalisation of the NGOs involved in the process (from rescue at sea to support in Italy).

The day continued at the Malta Migration Museum (NGO registered in the bed of the Catholic Church) where those responsible (INSERT NOMI) provided the historical panorama of Maltese emigration, a phenomenon that lasted from the early '900 until after the full independence of the country in 1964. Over the decades, the organization has played a pivotal role in supporting Maltese emigrants, not only in logistical terms but also by facilitating institutional relations with the countries of destination.
For some years now (the first Refugee Legislation in the country dates back to 1999) Malta has inevitably become, given its strategic geographical position as a hub for renewed migration phenomena, particularly from Africa. Our interlocutors have exposed the growing social tensions arising from the constant arrivals of migrants seeking asylum because of an alleged disproportion in relation to the Maltese population. However, what has caused the most stir in our group is derived from the fact that they are quantitatively scarce when compared to the numbers recorded by mass tourism, which, in fact, is substantially altering the conditions and models of life of the resident population.

The day ended with the enlightening encounter with Vince Briffa, probably the most prominent actor of the current artistic Malta's scenario.
Briffa realized The Knot, actually situated in Castille Place in Valletta city centre, just opposite the municipal building. The Knot symbolises migration as a whole, as well the way people and institutions tent to deal with problematic issues. You can unfold it gently and disclose the inner potentialities, or you can try to solve it rudely..and you'll get stuck with it. A potent metaphor of engaging with culture clashes...a way of living, perhaps.
Briffa honoured the participants with a brief and magnetic lectio about his most recent artwork, the video entitled "The Inbetween" presented at the recent Biennale of Art in Venice. Rooted within the Greek mythology and tale of Odysseus and Penelope, the video it is an intimate review of the human condition as neverending journey, shaping and re-shaping in a pendular dynamic identities and memories.
Art is always political, stated clearly Briffa, unearthing courageously the social role of the artist as a privileged interpreter of his own society. Art as universal grammar to deconstruct dominant narratives and rebuilding the sense of community.

First Edition, 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.

First Edition, 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.

First Edition, 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.