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States of Grace

Senegalese in Italy and the New European Immigration

1997
Author:

Donald Martin Carter

States of Grace

Considers what this community tells us about immigration in Europe today.

Focusing on Turin, the northern Italian point of entry for so many Senegalese, this book chronicles the arrival and formation of a transnational African Islamic community in a largely Catholic Western European country, one that did not have immigrant legislation until 1991.

“States of Grace is a first-rate study of the modern Italian state dealing with the complex contemporary issues of racism and Third World migrant workers crowding Turin's working-class neighborhoods. The chaotic situation described by Mr. Carter is quite common these days and every Western nation-state is trying to respond to it. States of Grace makes an important contribution to a growing body of literature on the social construction of the nation-state, combining concepts and ideas from historical, literary, and sociological works on migration, religion, and the nation-state.” Triloki N. Pandey, University of California, Santa Cruz

Leaving their depleted fields for better prospects, Senegalese immigrants have made their way to Italy in significant numbers. What this migration means, in the context of both the migratory traditions and conditions of Africa and the history and future of the European nation-state, is the subject of this timely and ambitious book.

Focusing on Turin, the northern Italian point of entry for so many Senegalese, States of Grace chronicles the arrival and formation of a transnational African Islamic community in a largely Catholic Western European country, one that did not have immigrant legislation until 1991. With no colonial relation to Italy, the Senegalese represent the vanguard of population movements expanding outside of the arch of former colonial powers.

Donald Martin Carter locates the Senegalese migration in the context of past African internal and international migration and of present crises in West African agriculture. He also shows how the Senegalese migration, constituting a “phenomenon” and catalyzing new immigration restrictions among European states, calls into question the European interstate system, the future of the nation-state, and the nature of its relationship with non-European states.

Throughout Europe, protectionist immigration policies are often crafted in chauvinist and racist tones in which “migrants” is a euphemism for blacks, Arabs, and Asians. States of Grace uses Senegalese migration to demonstrate that racial conceptions are crucial to understanding the classifications of non-national “outside” and internal “other.” The book is a bracing encounter with the ever-increasing cultural and ethnic heterogeneity that is the new and pressing reality of European society.

Donald Martin Carter is visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.

States of Grace

Donald Martin Carter is Visiting Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Hamilton College.

States of Grace

“States of Grace is a first-rate study of the modern Italian state dealing with the complex contemporary issues of racism and Third World migrant workers crowding Turin's working-class neighborhoods. The chaotic situation described by Mr. Carter is quite common these days and every Western nation-state is trying to respond to it. States of Grace makes an important contribution to a growing body of literature on the social construction of the nation-state, combining concepts and ideas from historical, literary, and sociological works on migration, religion, and the nation-state.” Triloki N. Pandey, University of California, Santa Cruz

“States of Grace is perhaps the first of what doubtless will usher in a new phase of anthropological research carried out on African migrants in European cities. By situating the history and current status of Senegalese migrants against the backdrop of the Italian state and its political and ideological role in what Carter calls 'creating others,' his study is a major intellectual leap away from conventional anthropological studies that have been carried out on African transnational migrants.” William A. Shack, University of California, Berkeley

In our age of international migration, this study of transnational migrants in Italy is extremely important because it concerns differences in race, ethnicity, class, and religious beliefs in the context of Ital

a country that because of its crossroad location for Europe, Africa, and Asia may be a laboratory for the twenty-first century.” Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, author of Liberazione della donna: Feminism in Italy and Black Madonnas: Feminism, Politics, and Religion in Italy

Carter’s monograph is a fascinating and elegantly written book illustrating the configuration emerging from Senegalese migration into Italy. It is a challenge to do justice to all the valid arguments and intriguing themes covered by this important contribution to the anthropology of migration and the nation-state.

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Deeply philosophical, literary, and theoretical. States of Grace makes a vital contribution to a set of issues of tremendous ethical and human import.

International Migration Review

Carter’s monograph is a fascinating and elegantly written book illustrating the configuration emerging from Senegalese migration into Italy by locating it also within the history and future of European nation-states and post-colonial West Africa. It is a challenge to do justice to all the valid arguments and intriguing themes covered by this important contribution to the anthropology of migration and the nation-state. This enjoyable book is a must for scholars interested in the anthropological discussions of migration, racism, the state in Europe as well as in Africa and, especially, their inter-relationship.

MAN