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The ambiguities of documentation: migrants’ everyday encounters with Italian immigration law

Tuckett, Anna (2013) The ambiguities of documentation: migrants’ everyday encounters with Italian immigration law. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is about migrants’ everyday encounters with Italian immigration law and its bureaucracy. Centred on research conducted in an advice centre for migrants, I explore the ways in which various actors within the immigration nexus (migrants, brokers, advisers and officials) interacted with what I call the documentation regime. The documentation regime was characterised by pervasive uncertainty. Everyday encounters with it created frustration and anxiety for migrants and those who worked on their behalf. The bureaucracy’s arbitrary nature, however, also allowed for its manipulation. Rule bending and loop-hole finding characterised the strategies which migrants developed in order to successfully navigate the regime: strategies which were referred to as “Italian-like”. Immigration law, therefore, simultaneously produced migrants as both structurally marginalised and as resourceful and tactically astute agents, embedded within a particular social context. While focusing on migrants’ active navigation of the regime highlights their agency and resourcefulness, I do not suggest that these were acts of resistance. Rather, I wish to situate their practices within the wider socio-economic setting in which they took place. Although in some ways migrants became insiders through their bureaucratic encounters, they did not escape the racialised category of low-level worker. The requirement of a work contract for legal status, and the kinds of work available to migrants, continually reproduced their marginalisation in Italian society, even among the most integrated. By exploring the situation of the second generation, who were socially Italian yet subject to the same immigration laws as their parents, I highlight the racialised discrimination which migrants experienced. It is this situation which motivated migrants’ desire to move on from Italy, which was considered as only a stepping-stone country: an entry into the rest of Europe and beyond.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Anna Letitia Tuckett
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Pelkmans, Mathijs and James, Deborah

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