Kitty Calavita — Immigration, Race, and Law in Italy: The Political Economy of Backlash

Begins at 2:00 in the Eleanor Roosevelt Administration Building Conference Room

Italy has one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in Europe. In this presentation, Calavita explores immigration law, the role of immigrant labor in the economy, and the racialization of immigrants in Italy. She notes that Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in the world and one of the oldest populations, and that immigrants help offset population declines and provide a critical labor force in many sectors and jobs at wages eschewed by Italians. She analyzes the current political backlash and racialization of immigrants within the context of a fundamental contradiction between the economic utility of immigrants as a third-world workforce and political rhetoric calling for their “integration.”

Kitty Calavita is Chancellor’s Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. She has conducted research and published widely in the field of immigration and immigration lawmaking. Her work is both contemporary and historical, U.S.-based and comparative. An early book, Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration, and the INS, used unpublished archival material to document the internal dynamics of the INS in shaping the Bracero Program, and connected structural contradictions in the political economy to the details of agency decisionmaking. Her recent book, Immigrants at the Margins: Law, Race, and Exclusion in Southern Europe (Cambridge, 2005), examines immigrant marginalization in Italy and Spain, and the formal and informal legal processes that contribute to it.

Her most recent book is Invitation to Law & Society: An Introduction to the Study of Real Law (University of Chicago Press, 2010). Interweaving scholarship with personal anecdotes and humor, it is an engaging and accessible guide to the prominent issues and distinctive approaches in the field of law & society. Neither introductory text nor scholarly monograph, the book is meant for students and colleagues alike.

She has launched a new research agenda, together with her colleague Valerie Jenness,  that explores some of these issues of race, marginalization, and legal processes within the venue of prisons. She is interested specifically in the implementation of the informal grievance process in California prisons, and what the use of this process can tell us about prisoners’ legal consciousness, as well as about rights consciousness and prison life more generally. The study includes archival data from  prisoners’ written grievances, as well as interviews with current prisoners and corrections officials.

Taking a stand: Residents raise their voice in favor of immigration reform (Brownsville Herald)

” … But if you successfully frame any policy as part of national security, there will be a greater chance of passing it, said John Skrentny, a sociology professor and director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California at San Diego.

Such was the case in the late 1950s with the passing of the National Defense Education Act, Skrentny said. For years, people believed the school funding was a local issue and that the federal government should not get involved, even though campuses were struggling, the professor said. That changed when the Soviet Union launched its first satellite ahead of the United States spurring the country to finally pass the act. … ”

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Arrested on Entry: Operation Streamline and the Prosecution of Immigration Crimes (Migration Policy Institute)

” … Political scientist Wayne Cornelius has found that notwithstanding increased border enforcement measures, eventual crossing success rates have remained consistently high (in the 97 percent range from 2005 to 2007), even for unauthorized immigrants who are apprehended by the Border Patrol. However, border enforcement strategies have increased smuggler fees and have pushed migrants to more remote and dangerous crossing routes. … ”

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Sound and Fury (Texas Tribune)

” … Just as in 2006, some Democrats are clamoring for immigration reforms, including easing pathways to citizenship, while Republicans are insisting that more security on the border must come first. Policy experts, meanwhile, say the outcome for immigration changes this year will likely be the same as back then: nothing. “I don’t see productive discussions on immigration this year,” said John Skrentny, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego. … ”

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Clarissa Clo – Second Generations in Italy: Culture, Identity, and the Challenge of Citizenship

Clarissa Clo – Second Generations in Italy: Culture, Identity, and the Challenge of Citizenship
 

Please listen (above) to the Research Seminar given by Clarissa Clo on April 27, 2010. We also encourage you to subscribe to our CCIS Podcast and listen to all of our research seminars for free!


Begins at 2:00 in the Eleanor Roosevelt Administration Building Conference Room

Recent cultural productions by second generations in Italy offer an alternative and multifaceted representation of contemporary society while illuminating the impact and flaws of the current immigration and citizenship legislation. This multifarious body of work illustrates the range of creative resources adopted by young authors born and/or raised in Italy by immigrant parents. While migrant groups in Italy may be politically disenfranchised, culture, and popular culture in particular, is a site where many second generation youth explore and imagine new ways of identity and relation. The analysis of Italian culture and society provided by these authors is particularly insightful because they access it from the vantage point of a “diasporic sensitivity,” one that is simultaneously local and transnational. In particular, second generations have much to contribute to an understanding of how policies work to limit, instead of improving, individual lives and collective interests. This is especially interesting in the case of Italy where, given the substantial emigrant history of the country, citizenship is based on jus sanguinis. “Blood” (thus race) remains a determining factor towards naturalization and the current legislation not only continues to uphold a “familist” approach to citizenship, but it also allows for an ethnocentric prejudice in its application which favors descent or EU membership over birth on national soil, discriminating against those from other regions of the world lacking Italian or European pedigree.

I argue that second generations in Italy have important insights to offer to the discussion over citizenship at large. Their cultural productions place them at the center, and not on the margin, of debates over Italian nationality, culture, and identity in the age of globalization. Second generations are perhaps the best suited to critique the legal system on immigration and citizenship in Italy, not just because, unlike Italian (white) citizens, they are forced to deal with it frequently, but also because they are quite knowledgeable of the workings of these laws and their material ramifications. They are “experts” who transfigure their legal “street” knowledge into literature, music and art while at the same time playing an important role as cultural activists. Their creative contribution shows the complex ways in which current immigration and citizenship laws in Italy do not (want to) account for Black or hyphenated Italians, i.e. people of African, Asian, Latin American, and Eastern European origin. It is through reading and listening to these voices that it becomes possible to bridge the distance between the text of the law and its abstractions and the material – racialized and gendered – effects on those who are subjected to it.

Clarissa Clò is Assistant Professor of Italian and European Studies and Director of the Italian Program at San Diego State University where she specializes in Italian Cultural Studies. She received a Ph.D. in Literature from UCSD in 2003 and taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before coming to SDSU. Her research interests include feminist, migration, and postcolonial studies, film, music, and popular culture. She has published in Annali d’Italianistica, Diacritics, Diaspora, Forum Italicum, Italian Culture, Italica, Il lettore di provincia and Transformations. She has written on The Battle of Algiers, regional documentary filmmaking, music subcultures, circum-Atlantic performances, Italian American women writers, Mediterranean Studies, and contemporary and postcolonial literature in Italy.

David FitzGerald to Speak at Barnard College

CCIS Associate Director David FitzGerald will speak at the Forum on Migration at Barnard College. Information about his talk is below.

Citizenship a la Carte: Emigration and the Mexican State

Monday, 4/26, 7 PM
Sulzberger Parlor
3rd Floor Barnard Hall

Against the claims of many scholars of globalization and transnationalism, Fitzgerald argues that the Westphalian principle of territorial sovereignty is strengthening in ways that has encouraged the Mexican government to renegotiate the terms of the social contract between emigrants and the Mexican state. This new social contract emphasizes voluntaristic ties, a menu of options for expressing membership, an emphasis on rights over obligations, and the legitimacy of plural legal and affective national affiliations.

David Scott FitzGerald is Associate Professor of Sociology and Associate Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS) at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author, most recently, of A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages its Migration (University of California Press, 2009). His major current project examines relationships between liberalism and racism in the immigration and nationality laws of 22 countries in the Americas from 1850 to 2000.

Four Generations of Norteños Reviewed in Latino Studies

CCIS publication Four Generations of Norteños, based on research carried out under the Mexican Migration Field Research Program, was reviewed recently in Latino Studies.

Reviewer Ana María Aragonés writes that the book “provides a thoughtful overview of some determinants of migration. … Its main contribution is to raise doubts about some hypotheses presented by other studies, posing a new set of considerations to the discussion, which in turn makes it a very up-to-date presentation of current research on migration.” She concludes that the book “is written with rigorous clarity and each article is thematically connected to the book’s effort to provide an in-depth assessment of the complex migration of Tlacuitapeños. Understanding the causes and the consequences of migration is imperative not only for the Latin American community of scholars and the general public, but also for all those who live in the United States and in Mexico.”

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The Fiscal Bottom Line on Immigration Reform (Immigration Policy Center)

” … A research team led by Wayne Cornelius, Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, has found that while unauthorized migrants from Mexico may be caught on their first attempt at crossing the border, they have an almost 100 percent chance of eventual success—particularly if they enlist the services of a coyote, or people smuggler. Moreover, as border enforcement is tightened between ports of entry along the southwest border, more migrants are being smuggled through ports of entry (sealed in a compartment within a vehicle, or as a passenger with false or borrowed documents).

Research by Cornelius and his team have also found that undocumented migration from Mexico has diminished mainly because there are fewer jobs available in the United States. …”

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