Three events this week on war economies, the militarization of education & BDS-Palestine in Turin and Milan

Spring has arrived, and the horror of the Israeli war and so many other wars are still here. We must not stop studying and discussing the intensification of militarization in our collective lives in the West and beyond. This week in Turin and in Milan, I will take part in three exciting public events, open to all (discussion will be in Italian).

On Monday, the 25th, at 20:30 in Turin (at OST Barriera), there will be a meeting on the capitalistic mode of production and the fragmentation of international markets. It is the launch of a very interesting book by the Rete dei Comunisti, upon which I will offer some reflections, among others.

On Tuesday, the 26th, at 16:00 in Milan (at the Universitá Statale di Milano, Legnaia), I will be discussing my book Universitá e Militarizzazione and be talking about the relationship between the university and the military sector with students and comrades.

Finally, on Thursday, the 28th, at 18:30 in Turin (at the Kontiki place via Cigliano), I will discuss a book, with others, about the Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction campaign and the involvement of Italian authorities in doing all sorts of problematic (read: militarized) dealings with the Israeli state.

I look forward to all of this! Posters and info are below.

On abolitionism and the detention and expulsion centres for migrants in Italy

In Italy, for migrants who do not request asylum, or for those to whom refugee status is denied, there are the Centri di Permanenza e Rimpatrio (CPR) (lit. Permanence and Repatriation Centres, once called Identification and Expulsion Centres). In these centres − which are essentially jails from which the asylum seeker cannot leave − individuals are restrained for a maximum of 18 months, without having committed any unlawful act, beyond not having the right document to be in the country. During this time, a judge needs to decide their fate. Either the asylum request, or any other favourable solution, is accepted, or the individuals are expelled from the country. Currently there are 9 CPR across Italy, with roughly 1,000 available places.

According to a study from a prominent Italian coalition in defence of civic rights, from June 2019 to May 2021, at least 6 individuals lost their lives while being detained in one of the ten CPRs across the peninsula. Thanks to the impressive investigative work of the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), we know that the conditions of life in the CPR of the city where I work, Turin, defy any imagination. In their recent report, ASGI tells stories of an man with broken legs to whom the police denies even a simple crutch, obliging him to lay down constantly; another who shows proof of a rare blood diseases when admitted to the centre, and will have to wait 49 days before receiving any medical care; or the case of a third young man, who self-declares as a minor (therefore someone who could not be detained in a CPR) but is not believed, and is kept in the centre for 95 days, without explanation before he eventually decides to cut himself on his right arm.

Self-harm is one of the only way detained individuals in the Italian CPR can make a − often ephemeral − stand. The only year, continues ASGI, for which we have data related to these practices is 2011. In the Turin CPR that year, there were “156 episodes of self-harm, 100 of which were due to ingestion of medicines or foreign bodies, 56 of which due to stab wounds”. Material living conditions in the centre are of course part of the problem. ASGI reports that “The living spaces reserved for the inmates include 50-square meter modules, including bathrooms, where seven people live, eat and sleep.” It then continues describing in full the conditions of life in such modules:

“Each bedroom has an en suite bathroom, which is accessed directly from the room itself. Between the bedroom and the bathroom there is no door, nor are there any dividing doors inside the bathroom to separate the two squat toilets from the rest of the room where there are two washbasins and a shower. In other words, a few meters separate the toilets from the nearest beds and there is no element of furniture, such as doors or at least curtains, to ensure a minimum of privacy to those who use the services. This state of affairs is unacceptable, unjustified and non-compliant in terms of security.”

The Permanence and Repatriation Centres are part of the militarisation of society, of this war that is fought on and with the body of an ‘other’, the migrant and the asylum seeker. This ‘other’ is constituted ad-hoc, as a containable figure, not only in the sense of a person who can be imprisoned, but of a subject who is made to take the political, epistemic and material charge of the struggles of this world that we cannot and do not want to face.

And so a dispossessed subject is created with systematic hatred, confined in very Italian Lagers, which are then also new ‘asylums’: total institutions for people who come in healthy and go out with the mockery of a letter of departure, mad, sick, tired. If they get out and don’t commit suicide first.

Today, a piece of important news broke: the CPR of Milan has been seized by authorities, after months in which activists have worked hard to show the conditions of life in such a space (summed up in an another excellent report by ASGI). An operator of that CPR-lager testifies:

‘Synthetically I can say that it was a real lager, not even dogs are treated like that in kennels. […] Firstly, there is widespread use of psychotropic drugs given like candy and in high dosages. During the summer it could happen that soap, although present, was not given to the inmates, so in practice showers were not taken. They were prevented from talking to the lawyers. The food was very often expired, spoiled”.

From Australia to the UK, passing now through the signed agreement between Italy and Albania, it is customary practice for Western democracies to offload migrant detention centers to third countries, and to replicate the model of the CPR away from the eyes of activists and engaged lawyers. The only possible response here is #abolition.

Here the term, following critical Black praxis, does not simply signify closure – but invokes a total overhaul of the practices through which we (Italians, in this case) legitimise our sense of home and belonging, of habitation and dwelling. As I expand upon here, what needs to be abolished is the need to constitute an ‘other’ of ‘home’ for ‘home’ to stand in the first place. It is about fighting borders and their technologies. It is about refusing the colonization of bodies and subjects. CPRs need to be closed down now, not as an arrival point, but as a departure for further, more radical struggles.

Photo: Images from the ordinance testifying to the terrible conditions at the via Corelli Cpr in Milan (il manifesto)

Launching a new Master in Urban and Political Geography in Turin!

In Turin we are launching a new Urban and Political Geography pathway within our Master in Geography and Territorial Sciences.

From Sept 2023 | All in English | With leading scholars | Beautiful City | Low tuition fees.

The curricula include courses on the birth of critical geographical thinking, urban & housing studies, racialised & gendered cities, history and spaces of capitalism, critical migration studies, southern urbanism, political ecology & more.

Check the full brochure:

For subscriptions & further info:

Feel free to contact me if you are interested or have any questions.

Abusive detention in Libya & the role of the Italian Government in it

“Libya has long been unsafe for refugees and migrants. Both state and non-state actors subject them to a catalogue of human rights violations and abuses including unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, rape and other sexual violence, indefinitearbitrary detention in cruel and inhuman conditions, and forced labour, among others. Despite well-documented patterns of horrific abuse committed with impunity for over a decade, European states and institutions continue to provide material support and pursue migration policies enabling Libyan coastguards to intercept men, women and children attempting to flee to safety by crossing the Mediterranean Sea andforciblyreturn them to Libya, where they are transferred to abusive detention and face renewed cycles of human rights violations.”

Amnesty International has just released a new report titled ‘No one will look for you‘, showing how, since late 2020 Libyan authorities have “legitimized informal places of captivity with unremedied histories of abuse against refugees and migrants by integrating them into the official migration detention infrastructure.”

The report is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the latest phase of the fascist anti-migration politics put in place for decades by the European Union. A keystone of the EU approach is to delegate border control to Mediterranean’s States with – to say the least – dubious respect for humanitarian rights, including Libya and Turkey.

In this politics, Italy plays a major role. The Italian Government has just announced its re-financing of the Libyan ‘Costal Guard’, who has a proven track record of harassment towards African migrants and dangerous practices against migrants’ vessels in the open Sea. The video below shows one of the latest episodes, reported by Sea Watch Italy.

The way in which we are defending our borders reveals what we are really defending. Our rotten values.

In memory of Moussa Balde

Today I am turning 38, and all I can think about is that the city I have chosen to live in, the city where my life is continuing and extending, is the same place where last Sunday Moussa Balde had to take his life as the only possible choice, the only possible way forward.

For the international friends, here we are talking about a 23 years old young Guinean man, who travelled across deserts and sea to reach this place – where he got jailed, then beaten up by fascists on the streets, then incarcerated again in one of the ‘centres for repatriation’ (Cpr).

The silencing of the potential of his life – the shutting down of all possible reverberations of his becoming – is a violent act that came before Moussa’s decision to commit suicide in the CPR’s cell where he was locked in. It is ingrained in European migration politics, in its Italian implementation, and in the everyday life of a city that does not simply ‘turn its back’ away, but it fires against, its so-defined ‘other’.

What kind of inhabitation is this? What kind of home?

Rest in power, Moussa Balde.

New paper in City on Homelessness and Public institutions

The 'Emergenza Freddo' camp in Turin, 2010 (Photo ML)
The ‘Emergenza Freddo’ camp in Turin, 2010 (Photo ML)

City has recently published one of my paper on homelessness, from my 2010 fieldwork in Turin, Italy. The paper can be downloaded here, below is the abstract.

Lancione, M. (2014), Assemblages of care and the analysis of public policies on homelessness in Turin, Italy, City, 18:1, 25-40

This paper investigates the ways urban policies on homelessness are discursively framed and practically enacted in Turin, Italy. The notion of ‘assemblages of care’ is introduced to show how these policies contribute to the constitution of different experiences of homelessness, by means of their discursive blueprints and practical enactments. Relying on 10 months of ethnographic fieldwork, the paper questions four policies. Three of these interventions are found to have negative impacts on homeless people’s emotions and ways of life; the remaining policy, I argue, holds the potential to produce alternative assemblages and more positive engagement with the individuals encountered. The conclusion provides more general critical reflections on urban policy and homelessness.

Photo – Fenestrelle Fort


Fenestrelle 8

Today, just before leaving Italy for Australia, I have been to the Fenestrelle Fort. It is a very interesting place, the biggest fortress in Europe. Amazing. But the most amazing thing to me is to having shared this visit with my parents. A beautiful day, just before taking another plane.

Below there is a showcase of some of the pictures that I took.

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Terraferma – Le vent nous portera

(Screenshot da Terraferma, 2011)

Terraferma è un film del 2011, di Emanuele Crialese. Terraferma è un film che tu devi vedere, che dobbiamo vedere tutti. E non per quello che racconta. Quello che racconta i più attenti già lo conoscono. Ma per quello che non dice. Per la grande assente dalla narrazione: la politica Italico-Libica, quella che ha portato a ciò che il film rappresenta. Grande cinema italiano, in piccola meschina italietta.

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