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Italian II and III classes to attend University of Richmond Conference, Migration: Contested Spaces of the Mediterranean

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Ms. Susan Hefty has been invited by the University of Richmond Department of Languages to bring students in her Italian studies program to their prestigious conference.

The year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the historical event that dramatically changed the political, social and cultural face of Europe. Thousands of people from Eastern communist countries crossed into Western Europe by land and sea, transforming and reshaping the places that offered them asylum or refuge. In more recent years, political instability in some Middle-Eastern and sub-Saharan countries has increased the influx of migrants and refugees in the closest ports of entry, notably Greece and Italy, raising numerous questions about how and whether to manage the resettlement of these populations across Europe. The humanitarian crisis such population influx has brought about has created mixed reactions. On the one hand, people have responded with great empathy, but on the other, it has opened the way for aggressive opposition with calls for a closed border, economic protectionism and the affirmation of nationalistic identities.

This conference aims to address the immigrant experience in the Mediterranean from different perspectives. What are the motivations or obligations that push people to leave their country of origin? What are the struggles they face in their journeys, and the difficulties that they meet when they arrive in a new space? Through lectures, conferences, films, interviews, and discussions with experts from diverse backgrounds they will illustrate the complexity of these issues.