Migrating Forward

by Michaela Felix

“The problem isn’t globalization, it’s the ethical conception of globalization.”

~Dr. Ousseina Alidou

59 million. That is the approximate number of people who seek refuge from violence and socio-economic issues in their home countries. On Friday, October 16th, scholars and students alike gathered in Alexander Library to discuss the Migration Crisis affecting Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean. Organized by the Center for African Studies, The Center of European Studies, and the Department of Italian, the symposium featured three parts composed of different topics, the last part being a viewing of video and art exhibitions. I had the pleasure of attending Part I which focused on the Histories, Causes, and Contexts of the Current Crisis.

The four speakers from the first part of the symposium included Cristina Lombardi-Diop, Ousseina Alidou, Amadou Kane Sy, and Kassahun Checole. The topics they spoke on were “The Mediterranean Crisis from Italy’s Southern Front”, “Globalization, Conflicts, and African Youth Displacement”, “Following the Fishes”, and “When the Risk of Death is Rationalized: Critical Sources and Reasons for Eritrean Migration” respectively. Each topic contributed to the next, providing a flow of deeper understanding of factors and issues that play into this major crisis.

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The director of the Rome Studies Program at Loyola University in Chicago, Cristina Lombardi-Diop spoke first. Her main points highlighted the dangers of the route used from Libya to Italy, which happens to be the most deadly. “It happens also at the border of Mexico and the Southern US, so it’s not that far from home”, Lombardi-Diop reminds us that the migration crisis is closer than we think.

An artist and activist from Senegal, Amadou Kane Sy spoke of the fish as a symbol for African resources. The fish, he mentioned, is an image for the numerous resources that have been and continue to be stolen from Africa. On the lack of American media coverage of the issue, Sy stated “It is a question of human responsibility. Nobody can just close their eyes and say ‘Oh, nothing is happening. I have to go have my Dunkin Donuts and coffee.’ We just put emphasis more on this tragic problem that people are facing and have been living with for years.”

Jamison Standridge, an attendee of the symposium, was rather familiar with the migrant crisis as he has written a dissertation on the subject matter and has been invited to speak about it on many occasions.He admitted that there America played a very small role in the crisis, although they should. “The influences in Africa, its more America influencing the continent rather than the continent influencing the United States”, said Standridge.

The migration crisis is a major issue we should all take the time to educate ourselves on.  As Lombardi-Diop said, “We are all migrants. If we look at our background, especially the United States, we can all trace our origins somewhere else.”

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