Giorgia Mirto

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 10528

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Mirto, Giorgia (Columbia U.) "The Political Life of Border Death in South Italy"

Over the last three decades, tens of thousands of migrants have died attempting to transgress Europe’s border regime. Even while rejecting the living, Italy has had to deal with migrants’ human and material remains. Thousands of such victims of border death have washed up on the beaches or been brought to the ports of Sicily (South Italy), corpses that have then been ‘translated’ by local actors: translation both between languages of mourning and burial, as well as in the sense of ‘translatio corporis’, i.e. the movement of sacred relics and corpses. The role played by death and dead bodies in the constitution of political communities is a fundamental anthropological question. By combining insights from the anthropology of death, migration, and truth production, I will examine this question in relation to these ‘foreign bodies’. How does the ‘translation’ of border death transform or even constitute different communities that coalesce around it? What conflicting claims over bodies, or claims for justice in relation to their deaths, are expressed through different mortuary practices? And how have these dynamics shaped possibilities for solidarity and political communities that act across today’s racial and national boundaries of belonging in Italy and beyond?