UArizona Anthropologist's New Book Critically Examines the Migration Crisis in Sicily

March 31, 2021

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Megan Carney
Megan Carney

Megan Carney, assistant professor in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, specializes in transnational and gendered migration in the United States and Italy. In her most recent book Island of Hope: Migration and Solidarity in the Mediterranean (University of California Press, 2021), she looks at the transnational migration journey from North Africa to Europe, where Sicily, Italy is the place of arrival for many migrants. She examines the broader concerns for human rights and social justice that come about with migration.

“It is an ethnography of crises,” said Carney. “Primarily the migration crisis but also how that has intersected with a crisis of austerity measures that were implemented right after the global financial crisis, the crisis of populist and nationalist politics throughout Europe, and the environmental crises occurring in the Mediterranean. But it is also, perhaps more importantly, about the forms of care that emerge from crises.”

Carney spent extended time in Sicily between 2014 and 2019 to conduct research and gain a better understanding of the migration crisis and its impact on the country and on migrants. “I was doing my research at the height of the migration crisis in the Mediterranean,” she said. “This is likely one of few, if not the only book that is exclusively focused on this five-year span of unprecedented movement of people through the Mediterranean, specifically Sicily, seeking asylum in Europe.”

Currently, the dominant narrative surrounding migration and asylum seeking in Sicily is negatively framed as a crisis, Carney said. In her book, she aims to provide a counter argument to this by documenting the wide-ranging forms of social solidarity adopted by migrants and Sicilian citizens.

"A rigorously researched, innovative, and theoretically rich study of the 'work' of migrant solidarity in Sicily,” said Heath Cabot, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh and author of On the Doorstep of Europe: Asylum and Citizenship in Greece.

“Carney brings together an analysis of austerity politics with the politics of migration, showing how these overlapping 'crises' intersect in crucial (and often neglected) ways. This ethnographically rich book is an important contribution to the anthropology of the Mediterranean and critical migration studies.”

Island of Hope: Migration and Solidarity in the Mediterranean will be released May 25, 2021.