Another('s) Rome: difference and belonging in a twenty-first century city
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 12:04 authored by Olivia Hamilton
This study is concerned with the experiences of migrants and minorities in contemporary Rome. Through an analysis of the socio-spatial identification of first and second generation migrants, and other marginalised minorities, the study explores the ways that these subjects negotiate difference and belonging in the spaces of the city of Rome both in terms of physical and social presence. Given the current climate of conflict in Italy over issues of immigration and citizenship, race and cultural identity, this investigation points to the need to pay attention to the spatial in experiences of exclusion and belonging. The theoretical frame is informed by urban studies, specifically approaches that develop a dynamic sense of place, and literature on migration and identity, through contemporary discussions of citizenship, subjectivity, (in)visibility and abjection. The thesis presents findings based on ethnographic fieldwork in Rome, which included qualitative, semi-structured interviews and participant observation with community-based, small-scale NGOs active around issues of migration and minority rights. To provide a historical and critical frame for the fieldwork, I examine literary and cinematic representations of the city of Rome and its populations, as well as analysis of relevant policies and public discourses around immigration. Policies developed at the nation-state level are concretised through experiences at the local level; representations of the city affect perceptions of who belongs and who does not. This synthesis of different sources develops an analysis that takes into account the competing claims over urban space and migrant and minority identifications, as they occur at a specific historical moment in a particular site. The thesis argues that an understanding of place is essential to an understanding of identity, since it is through both social and spatial structures that we carve out a place for ourselves in the world - and in doing so, change the places in which we live.