Tuesday 23rd of July 2024


Mediating Migrants: Trust and Identity in Communicating the Migrant Crisis on the South East Coast of Sicily

Denise Filmer, Università di Pisa pdf_icon_30x30




Abstract: This contribution discusses the preliminary findings of a small-scale survey on the linguistic response to the arrivals in Sicily of migrants who cross the Mediterranean Sea. The study relates to a broader project on crisis translation in migration settings and with my postdoctoral fellowship at Catania University’s School of Modern Languages, Ragusa (Italy). It aims to investigate how intercultural mediators, NGO operators working around ports and reception centres in Eastern Sicily, and the "end-users" themselves, the migrants, portray their experience of negotiating linguistic and cultural barriers within the context of the ongoing migratory phenomenon. This paper focuses on issues of trust within these interpreting triads, and on the perceptions and practices of intercultural mediation as facilitator of cross-cultural communication. Data was collected in the form of semi-structured interviews conducted in-situ. A strict process of ethical approval was adhered to in order to protect those interviewees who could be considered vulnerable respondents. Following applications to the relevant Sicilian authorities and having been granted permission to proceed, the research was carried out in two port areas and in two different types of reception centre. The first, CARA di Mineo (ordinary reception centre), was the largest reception centre for asylum seekers in Europe until early 2019 when it was closed and was under the jurisdiction of the Prefecture of Catania. The second, a CAS, (so-called emergency reception centres created in 2014 and run by regional cooperatives), is under the jurisdiction of the Prefecture of Ragusa. The study is divided into two parts: the first contextualises the data in the Italian socio-political scenario and presents the methodological and theoretical framework for the research. The second part analyses the data extracted from the interviews and closes with some tentative observations and final remarks.


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