Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

Road to manhood: masculinity and vulnerability across the central Mediterranean migration route to Europe

Palillo, Marco (2019) Road to manhood: masculinity and vulnerability across the central Mediterranean migration route to Europe. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Download (6MB)


The aim of this thesis is to explore the relation between gender and vulnerability in the context of men’s mobility along the Central Mediterranean route to Europe. In order to do this, I will explore how male Sub–Saharan asylum seekers, refugees, and other international protection holders position themselves as ‘men’ within their stories – from their life at home to their relocation to Europe. The study is based on 36 qualitative ‘life history’ interviews conducted in Sicily. Each empirical chapter focuses on a specific stage of the migration experience: life at home pre–migration; the journey through Libya; and relocation in Sicily. This approach helps uncover the role of masculinity in shaping men’s gendered vulnerabilities on a continuum across the different phases of their journey to Europe. By looking at the reasons that prompted participants to flee, the migration experience emerges as a gendered enterprise, a complex project in which a passage into socially recognised manhood is negotiated. In this context, the materiality of the journey across the Central Mediterranean Route, characterised by hardship, violence and danger, offers a landscape of symbols associated with the traditional masculinity tropes of mastery, courage, competency and physical and moral strength. By describing the crossing through Libya as a masculine accomplishment, participants’ narratives illuminate the gendered vulnerabilities associated with patterns of gender relation in the maledominated smuggling industry and in the context of illegal migration. Once in Sicily, being dependent on humanitarian assistance, unable to work and to make decisions over their lives, refugee and asylum seeking men experience an interruption in their trajectory towards manhood. Here, gendered vulnerabilities are mainly associated with their location within Sicilian refugee centres. Forced into a protracted liminal condition by asylum policies and practices, navigating the racialization processes activated by the ‘refugee crisis’ discourse in the local communities, masculinity emerges as a key site of resistance wherein negotiating political agency at the intersection of multiple systems of inequalities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Marco Palillo
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Seckinelgin, Hakan and Phillips, Coretta

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics