Date Thesis Awarded

4-2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Anthropology

Advisor

Andrea Wright

Committee Members

Brad Weiss

Jonathan Glasser

Abstract

In recent years mass migration has taken place across the Mediterranean Sea, with individuals attempting to arrive in Europe from many countries in Africa and the Middle East. Italy is one of the primary countries that people arrive at, because of its vicinity to North Africa where many people cross the Sea. Italians have not had to deal with this kind of mass migration in the past and are thus struggling to define what assimilation will look like. Earlier works tend to focus on the crossing of transnational barriers, or migrants in the first stages of applying for documents. There are very few works that address the ways in which asylum seekers attempt to assimilate to their new Italian communities. Different constructed ways of cultural communication produce moments of miscommunication, that are then embedded with additional values such as race, gender, and language. The categorization of these values determines assumptions about the ways in which individuals view and interact with their definition of communities and the world. This basis of understanding fosters cultural (mis)communications that can serve as barriers to asylum seeker integration and Sienese acceptance of outsiders in Siena, Italy. Using data I collected over eight months of ethnographic research, and close reading of anthropological literature, I propose to examine the ways that asylum seekers and the Sienese classify who belongs to a community, in order to understand their interactions in Siena.

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