Non-Citizen Portrayals in the Italian Media: A Socio-Political Dilemma




Alvarez, Jessica A.

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This thesis describes how immigration in Italy poses a broader socio-political problem regarding the treatment and representation of non-citizens of all kinds. Marginalization, conflict, and violence all interact with consistent negative stereotyping in the media. Combined, they can greatly slow the integration process. This study explores how the representation of non-citizens in the media is crucial to understanding the non-citizen perspective to providing possible solutions to existing social conflicts, and to developing future peaceful relationships among both established and new Italian communities. For the purpose of this study I emphasize how immigrants, refugees (legal and undocumented), and even some people born in Italy are part of a larger group of non-citizens who remain outside of Italian society, and are so categorized in the media. I focus on the "convenient images" of non-citizens in the Italian media and how the resulting stereotyping and misrepresentation are used in political discourse. On a more positive level, I also discuss the ongoing efforts of many organizations to provide a better representation of non-citizens. The focus of my research is roughly the last two decades during which mass trans-Mediterranean migration flows have surged, especially from countries in conflict. The core documents used are from mainstream newspapers and independent ethnic media, a combination that helps reveal the differences and similarities in how mainstream and minority sources report on non-citizen issues, especially regarding refugees. By contrasting how different Italian media generates narratives of identity both positive and negative, I will argue that not only has the Italian media the ethical obligation to construct spaces of representation among non-citizen minority groups and, to protect individual human rights, but that there are many positive examples from which to work to resolve these existing problems. This thesis may thus be a useful example for how, despite many problems, the media can represent non-citizens in a positive light and thus help promote more effective integration of non-citizens.



Anthropology, Media, Italy, Human rights, Refugees, Socio-political