LIMS/CHIRRS Sub-Saharan migrants in contemporary Libya: Containment policies and international relations
LIMS Talk by Antonio Morone (Pavia, Political Science), ‘Sub-Saharan migrants in contemporary Libya: Containment policies and international relations’ (held jointly with CHIRRS)
The Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars (LIMS) aim at fostering further discussion across disciplines on migration-related topics and creating an open dialogue between the speakers and the attendees. The seminars are a platform for those at Leiden University working on migration-related topics.
Over the past three decades Libya has been a ‘laboratory’ for the European and especially Italian migration policies. The 1990s have been characterized by two conflicting tendencies in Libya: on the one hand, the policies of the Qadhafi regime characterized by an open-door policy towards the influx of low-cost labor from sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab countries; on the other hand, the containment policies put in place by Italy to halt illegal migratory flows through the Mediterranean Sea, which were however an infinitely small proportion of the total number of migrants in Libya.
Italian-Libyan bilateral relations were thus heavily characterized by the restrictions Libya imposed over the migratory flows, which Italy exchanged with its commitment to support the end of the international embargo on Libya and its readmission to the international community. With the collapse of the regime in 2011 and the beginning of the civil war, a new phase opened up in which the very distinction between legal and illegal migrants has progressively lost meaning, inasmuch as the weakness, if not the actual disintegration of Libyan institutions, has led informality to prevail over the rule of law. Italy and, increasingly, the rest of Europe have continued to exert a series of direct and indirect pressures on the new Libyan authorities, with the aim of reaffirming the policies of migratory containment, but political instability and the persistence of conflict have strongly compromised the effectiveness of this attempt, urging rather a further externalization of containment policies (and European borders) to other African countries to the south of Libya, from which migrants leave or transit.
The presentation aims at analyzing the policies of containment, detainment and deportation of sub-Saharan migrants in the framework of international relations between Italy and Libya. Specific attention is devoted to discuss the role of the colonial and postcolonial history in the bargaining between Italy and Libya on the migration issue.
About the speaker
Antonio M. Morone is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, Pavia University, Italy, where he teaches Colonial and Postcolonial African History. His publications are related mainly to the contemporary history of Somalia and Libya. He was recently visiting scholar at the University of al Manar, Tunisia, and the University of Tripoli, Libya.
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