Interview by: Gaia Giuliani
Edited by: Camilla Morello
Abstract by: Irene Fattacciu
Language editing by: Daniela S. Jorge Ayoub
Este podcast faz parte da série de 28 podcasts realizados sobre o caso português e italiano no âmbito do projeto de investigação de 36 meses (2018-2021)
(De)Othering: Desconstruindo o Risco e a Alteridade: guiões hegemónicos e contra-narrativas sobre migrantes/refugiados e “Outros internos” nas paisagens mediáticas em Portugal e na Europa, que pretendeu analisar criticamente representações mediáticas de migrantes, refugiados e “outros internos” em Portugal e na Europa, mapeando as suas interconexões com narrativas produzidas no domínio da segurança e no quadro da Guerra ao Terrorismo. O seu foco, uma análise de Portugal à luz de estudos de caso europeus profundamente afetados por ameaças terroristas (Reino Unido e França) e por fluxos migratórios/de refugiados (Itália e Alemanha), pretende investigar a construção de narrativas transnacionais de risco que permeiam a Europa independentemente da sua exposição “diferenciada”.
O projeto foi financiado pelo pelo FEDER – Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional através do COMPETE 2020 – Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI) e por fundos nacionais através da FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Referencia Projeto: POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029997)
----- English Version
This podcast is part of a series of 28 podcasts produced on the Portuguese and the Italian cases as outputs of the research undertaken in the 36 months project (2018-2021) (De)Othering: Deconstructing Risk and Otherness: hegemonic scripts and counter-narratives on migrants/refugees and ‘internal Others’ in Portuguese and European mediascapes that sets out to critically examine media representations on migrants, refugees and ‘internal Others’ in Portugal and across Europe while mapping out their interconnections with particular narratives in the field of security and within the War on Terror. Its focus – an analysis of Portugal in the light of other European cases affected by terrorist threats (United Kingdom and France) and by migrant/refugee flows (Italy and Germany) – aims to explore the construction of transnational narratives of risk pervading Europe regardless of the ‘differential’ exposure to them.
The project was funded by FEDER – European Regional Development Fund through the COMPETE 2020 – Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI), and by Portuguese funds through FCT in the framework of the project 029997 (Reference: POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029997).
Barbara Pinelli is a socio-cultural anthropologist specialized in forced migration and intersectional feminist perspectives with a focus on the nexus among multiple spirals of power, memories of violence, and political testimony. Her extensive research experience in the field of political asylum includes the impact of European border regimes on migrants, migratory routes in the Mediterranean region, and gender-based violence. She carried out extensive ethnographic research in Sicily (on landing zones and within refugees’ camps) involving mainly refugee women and looking at the link between gendered traumatic memory and how arrival contexts exacerbate long-term vulnerability and human suffering. Currently, her work mainly concerns itself with processes of reconstruction of subjectivity after experiences of persecution and abuse, the temporal dimension of violence, and critical perspectives on the moral regimes of humanitarian policies.
Summary of the podcast
In this episode, she discusses her research on forced human mobility and violence against migrant women. The aim of her work is to build her research on forced mobility, looking at migration, border policies and violence from asylum seekers’ lived experiences.
For Pinelli, this mobilization builds on the central commitment of her work; studying the intertwining of gendered violence and forced mobility to identify how women’s bodies are constructed through the ethnicization of gender and culturalized codifications of violence. Entrenched stereotypes and white hegemonic feminism play into the hands of humanitarian or culturalist discourses, so that help offered to migrant women is always structured as a kind of rehabilitative path to achieving conforming emancipation – following a moral ethic marked by gender hierarchies.
Pinelli traces the development of anthropological studies focusing on women’s experiences, from the invisibility of female refugees to the humanitarianism of the 1990s. Women (especially, women with children) became the symbol and justification of humanitarian efforts, fueling the construction of the female subject asking for protection. This allowed the West to represent itself as savior; saving those deemed risky women from cultural pathologies. At the same time, the ethnic-cultural codification of violence carried with it the expectation that these women would follow the correct grammar of violence.
Pinelli traces how the media’s narratives on migration have changed over the past decade, starting with the Italian government’s Mare Nostrum operation - a military and humanitarian mission that began after the 2013 shipwreck in Lampedusa – to the slow crumbling of these discourses, first with the criminalization of NGOs through the closure of ports. Within this framework, newspapers internalized the logic of the victimization of women, to the point of identifying women and children as the only ones worthy of being saved. This process of dehumanization denies these women a history, as well as their status as political subjects. In this way, protection is provided as a gift which must be reciprocated by giving up other rights.
Media discourses on refugee women are central to understanding the importance of these discursive shifts in the process of politicizing borders.