Fitful circulations: Unauthorized movements in the Sicilian transit zone


The region of Sicily, in the south of Italy, has been at the centre of diverse contemporary migration movements since the 90s. This has made it an ideal setting for experimentation of new border control devices and procedures at the EU level. This article analyses the constellation of migrant circulations – local and seasonal, trans-local, transnational – characterizing this area, considering them as the product of border configurations, (g)local markets (agriculture, tourism) and migrant’s agency. The scenario has been deeply affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic which transformed global supply chains, local economies and migrant labour, producing a selection of mobilities due to public health reasons. This contribution is based on a multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork I have been conducting since 2016 in the Sicilian region, which has continued through the pandemic, from the hotspot border apparatus of Pozzallo to the sites of seasonal informal agricultural work as Cassibile, Ragusa area and Campobello di Mazara. What comes to light from the field is a complex sketch, in which migrants’ movement is the outcome of contrasting drives to push, block, divert and accelerate. I define fitful circulations the result of the friction between the economic need to let move labour power commodity and the sovereign push to select, contain or exclude living labour on the basis of citizenship, race, class and gender, emerging from the intertwine of economic and labour markets configurations, territorial sovereignty administration, public health management and the agency of migrants.

International Migration