Immigration in the Mediterranean Basin

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Course Information
Political Science
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

There are no particular requirements to attend this course. Knowledge of sociology and political science fundamentals will be helpful.


Immigration is changing Europe rapidly with large numbers of emigrants and asylum-seekers arriving from the East and South. Beside “old immigration countries” such as Germany, France and the UK, in recent decades Mediterranean EU countries like Spain, Italy and Greece have become the initial, and sometimes the final, goal of migrants attempting to enter Europe. The Mediterranean Basin has historically been a space for human mobility and cultural exchange. Immigration is a complex phenomenon giving rise to moral dilemmas and hot social and political issues, such as cultural and religious pluralism, national identity and citizenship rights. This course will look at immigration in the Mediterranean Basin from an interdisciplinary perspective with readings from history, economics, sociology, demography, political science, and literature. A variety of theoretical approaches, empirical findings and a selection of case-studies will be considered.

The course is broadly divided into three sections. The first part will focus on the history and the geography of human mobility across the Mediterranean. Myths and realities in the representations of the Mediterranean as a “bridge” connecting people and cultures, will be discussed through a case-study of the Mediterranean port-cities, and a course-related excursion to Marseille. The second part will focus on the “borderization” of the Mediterranean and the EU policies with respect to illegal immigration. The focus here will be on two critical aspects: the “borderization” of Mediterranean islands, like Malta and Lampedusa, and the “externalization” of EU borders on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. The emerging idea of a “Fortress Europe” will be contrasted with EU asylum policies and the international role of the “Shelter Europe”. The third section will go more deeply into the political and sociological analysis of the euro-Mediterranean immigration system. After discussing the “classical” national immigration and incorporation patterns, this section will analyze paths and features of immigration in southern Europe countries. A comparative case-study will look at Italy and France, with a focus on hot current issues, including the spread of racism and Islamophobia, and the rise of anti-immigrant parties. In conclusion, we will look at the idea of Euromediterranean citizenship in association with NGOs and immigrant organizations.

This course forms part of the IES Abroad Independent Research Program. It can be combined with the Introduction to Research Module for an additional 1-credit.