Vincenzo Romania (Università di Padova)


From 15:15
to 18:30


Course purpose

Migrations are the most visible aspect and effect of globalization. On the positive side, they show a mutation in the regulation of borders and national identities, more and more oriented towards tolerance, supra-national cohesion and integration. But, on the critical side, they also show the effects of growing inequalities, wars and humanitarian crises. Giving the complexity of governance, receiving countries are faced with challenges to their (post-) national identity, to social welfare and to the emergence of phenomena of racism and populism directly connected to migration and social welfare. On the international level, the growing proportion of forced migration, asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking, and the gap between formal and substantial application of international laws are putting in discussion the universality of human rights. The aim of this course is to understand how the interplay of global social, economic and political forces are shaping international migrations, focussing on ethical issues and on a specific case study: the migration crises in the Mediterranean sea, during the last twenty years. Secondly, the aim of the course is to provide a general introduction to this very complex topic, and help students analysing and projecting policies for a future sustainable management and governance of migrations.

Course contents

The course will focus in particular on the so called Migration Crises that interested the Mediterranean area during the last decades. This focus will allow us to face a practical emergency and to deepen and compare different national and supranational approaches to its resolution. Indeed, after a long history of dialogue and conflicts, the Mediterranean sea is more and more becoming the deadliest border (Albahari, 2015) between the Western world and social excluded people of Eastern and Southern countries. We will consider in particular:
- The ethic of inclusion;
- The issue concerning the universal definition of human rights;
- The global situation of migrations;
- The history and structure of migrations towards Europe;
- The effect of European Union integration on migrations;
- The conciliation between national and supranational policies;
- The issue of racism and discrimination towards migrants and refugees;
- The issue of bilateral agreements between European and non-European countries (as Libya and Turkey, in particular) as regards refugees and human rights;
- The sustainability of domestic policies in terms of safety, development, urban settlement.

The approach followed will be multidisciplinary and case-oriented. For this reason, the professor will provide general tools of knowledge and interpretation and will ask students to deepen and analyse specific National cases. In order to analyse all the elements of the migration crises in the Mediterranean sea, we will also watch and discuss some documentaries during the class activities. In particular:
• Mare Chiuso (2012) by Stefano Liberti and Andrea Segre on the effects of bilateral agreements on refugees life conditions;
• Come il peso dell’acqua (2014) by Andrea Segre on the different forms of persecutions and violence experienced by forced migrants coming from different routes;
• Fire at Sea by Gianfranco Rosi (2016) on the problems of first support to refugees in the island of Lampedusa;
• A Ciambra by Jonas Carpignano (2017) on the co-existence of social inclusions and new forms of implicit slavery in the South of Italy.

Learning outcomes

The students are expected to develop an overall multidisciplinary and complex approach to the ethical issue connected to migrations and human rights. This will help to cross over the political controversy between unproblematic acceptance of migration vs. similarly unproblematic refusal of any migration flow involving most of the more developed countries nowadays, reflecting on the issues of inclusion, democracy, liberal rights of self-realisation and democratic rights of social cohesion.


During the course we will discuss the following topics:

- Introduction on the ethics of inclusion: focus on Jurgen Habermas
- “Becoming Mediterranean”: understanding the historical and cultural specificity of the area
- Colonization, post-colonization and the XX century migrations to Europe
- The rise of a Southern European Model of Integration: Italy, Spain and Greece, between refugee crisis and the regulation of irregular flows of migrants
- Arab Spring, Syrian Crisis, and the bilateral agreements of 2000s years
- Frontex, Triton and the governance of the sea
- Filming the crises: analysis of the cultural reflection about the Mediterranean crises.
- International Law and Asylum: a matter of rights or a political issue of numbers and resources?
- Case studies analysis: class presentation of students’ work Topics order may change for teaching reasons.

The documentaries will be shown with English subtitles when available.


50% Participation to classroom activities: presentations and readings
50% Final paper.


Compulsory readings:

- Theoretical introduction: Jurgen Habermas, The Inclusion of the Other, MIT Press, 2001, from page 105 to page 239.
- Case study: Valsamis Mitsilegas, The Criminalisation of Migration in Europe. Challenges for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Springer, 2015.

Recommended readings:

Maurizio Albahari, Crimes of Peace. Mediterrean Migrations at the World’s Deadliest border, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.
Ferruccio Pastore & Giulia Henry, "Explaining the Crisis of the European Migration and Asylum Regime", The International Spectator, Vol. 51 , Iss. 1, 2016.
Ferruccio Pastore and Irene Ponzo (Eds.), Inter-group Relations and Migrant Integration in European Cities. Changing Neighbourhoods, Springer Open, 2016 (ebook in free downloading at
Alexandria Innes, Migration, Citizenship and the Challenge for Security. An Ethnographic Approach, Palgrave MacMillan, 2015.
Rogier van Reekum, "Between crises and borders: Interventions on Mediterranean Neighbourhood and the salience of spatial imaginaries", Political Geography, July 2017

The professor will also provide Power Point slides, other papers and documents summarizing the content of the course, and additional material for the class work.



Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272