ISO title

Research Outline

Destination Italy

Representing migration in contemporary media and narrative

In recent years, Italy has undergone a sudden migratory influx of great proportions, which has raised a number of hotly-debated concerns – political, social and cultural. We believe that the public discussion of these issues would benefit from an outside, multidisciplinary viewpoint, bringing international expertise and solid research work into the debate. The issue of migration is a determining factor in how Italian society will evolve in the future, and for this reason it is vital to achieve a detailed understanding of the factors at play in such a complex and radical process.

This programme will explore issues related to media and narrative representations of migration in relation to the Italian case. It aims to produce an in-depth study in two related areas: how migrants are represented in the Italian media, cinema and literature, and how Italy has been represented in these migrants’ countries of origin. Through this research, we aim to build up a comprehensive picture that will contribute to an understanding of the role of representation in migratory dynamics.

“Destination Italy” will bring together scholars working in the field of migration studies in a trulyinternational context. Oxford’s interdisciplinary network for the study of Italy, Italian Studies at Oxford (,  will be at the centre of a UK-based research group from the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford Brookes, Reading, UCL and Warwick. Our international partners are based in Italy (COSPE, Florence; Rome University "La Sapienza", Roma Tre; Monash Centre, Prato), Egypt (Helwan, Cairo), France (Paris 2) and in the USA (CUNY).

By involving researchers from countries that have experience in analyzing migratory patterns of the past (such as Australia, the U.S., and France), we can benefit from valuable methodological experience and input to be applied to the project. At the same time, studying the role of media and narrative representations of Italy in a selection of the countries where most migrants come from (Romania, Albania, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Maghreb) will provide an invaluable insight into the influence of real and “imagined” notions of the destination country. Finally, the involvement of a prestigious NGO such as COSPE (Cooperazione per lo Sviluppo dei Paesi Emergenti) will ensure impact of this project beyond the close circle of specialist scholars, aiming instead at influencing policy-makers and promoting public awareness.

The research work produced by this project will be presented and discussed through three international workshops, a major conference to be held in 2012 and a volume publication. We aim to produce a comprehensive and global evaluation of media and narrative representations of migration to Italy, which will be a valuable source of inspiration and reference to policy makers as much as academics working in a number of related fields.