Gabriele Tomei presents his paper 'Remaining subjects despite structural constraints: migratory strategies among refugees hosted in Italy after their expulsion from Libya' in parallel session IV (C) of the Examining Migration Dynamics conference
During the 2011 Lybian crisis, Gheddafi decided to expel many African and Asiatic workers, forcing them to illegally migrate to Italy as a reaction to the government support of the international military intervention against his regime. As a consequence of that mass expulsion, and under the menace of the regime army, more than 30.0000 refugee arrived in Italy where they all have been requested to seek for refugee status and, consequently, they have been hosted for months into special centres, waiting for the conclusion of the application process under administrative limitations of their freedom and of their mobility in space and time.
Despite the strong pressure of these constraining new conditions, some refugees reacted in order to give chances to their own migratory projects, using administrative dispositive as opportunities: someone used government programme to return home; others became illegal and escaped to other European countries; others decided to remain in Italy, using the welfare system to integrate in the host society. Three seems to be the main strategies against the structural constraints: (1) improving their social capital, through informal networking among people of the same nationality and fraternizing with centres' personnel and local population; (2) defending their basic rights, mobilizing collective protests against the inactivity or the abuses of the Italian bureaucracy; (3) sustaining their livelihood, mapping the territory looking for some working opportunities.
According with the theoretical approaches that unveil the autonomous structuring power of subjectivity against the strength of the context structural conditions, with a special focus on the role of social networks and of their cultural and symbolical dimensions in orienting migrant's habits and trajectories, the hypothesis above mentioned will be tackled using a set of qualitative data from first hand interviews with refugees and centre's personnel, collected in Italy between April 2012 and February 2013.