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).
Bio of the speaker
Oiza Queens Day Obasuyi is an Italian woman of Nigerian descent. She is a human rights and migration specialist. She holds a degree in International Relations and works as a freelance contributing writer for Italian webzines and author. Her first book is Corpi Estranei (People, 2020) where she deconstructs cultural, institutional and systemic racism in Italy from the perspective of a black Italian woman.
Summary of the podcast
In this episode, she deals with the media coverage of the migrant refugee crisis, narrated as a problem by piling up headlines without wondering what stories are behind these people on the move. The proposed narratives are trapped in the dichotomy between victim and invader, which leads to a superficial understanding of migrants’ experience and nurtures a process of dehumanization.
Obasuyi recalls the need for a point of view that takes into consideration migration from an international mobility perspective, abandoning the dominant paternalistic vision that criminalizes migrants – especially that of Afro-descendant and Black. Not only are there no voices in newspapers that analyze these issues in depth, but there are also few people with different migrant or ethnic-cultural backgrounds in the editorial offices. Diversity would indeed allow to escape from an exclusively white vision.
In this framework, images of shipwrecks always trigger this dichotomy between those who need to be saved and invaders. Both patterns, that of the criminal migrant and that of the migrant of good will, contribute to a process of dehumanization and disempowerment. Concerning the media’s coverage of terrorism, Obasuyi traces the hate propaganda back to the idea of invasion, which forms the backdrop to the stereotype of the Arab terrorist. In particular, she emphasizes its paternalism towards women, as in the case of Silvia Aisha Romano (the Italian NGO voluntary worker who was kidnapped in Kenya in 2018 by terrorist organization Al-Shabaab, then rescued and returned to Italy in 2020 as a Muslim-convert).
Obasuyi explains how, with the BLM movement, Afro-descendants finally took to the streets to speak out, discussing racism, Ius soli, and laborers’ rights. However, media coverage dismissed these events and emphasized Italy’s participation in global protests in solidarity with George Floyd, an African-American man murdered by police officers in the United States. Obasuyi argues that this general absence acts as a colonizing filter that prevents the voices of Italians of different ethnicities to be seen. Racism in Italy only comes to light in its most extreme forms, often ignoring its more common, subtle forms that transpire through the internalization of racialized discourses and the reproduction of racial stereotypes.