Professor of Africana Studies Donald Carter presented a paper at a symposium on “African Clandestine Migrants and Fortress Europe: Dreams of a Better Future and Human Dramas in the Mediterranean Sea.” The event was held Jan. 22-23 at the University of Florida Center for African Studies (CAS).
Carter’s paper, “Crossing the Mediterranean: The Vanishing Point of Europe and the contemporary African diaspora,” explored the human dimension of the contemporary immigration process, particularly as it relates to African newcomers, their past and position in the host society.
According to Carter, “Crossing the Mediterranean in tiny boats and overcrowded freighters has captured the contemporary imagination as a trope of the immigration crisis in Europe. Some suggest that this crisis may lead to the undoing of the delicate European Union. If the passage of people who make these attempts to cross were measured in hearts and bones we might navigate this world in degrees of heartbreak and loss.
“The European shoreline has been dotted for years with makeshift graveyard for the bodies that have washed ashore often unidentifiable and relegated to the most provisional designations of age ranges, regions of origin, racial or imagined ethnic indices. Indeed the families whose loved ones make this voyage may never recover from this Africa to Europe crossing. Tens of thousands of documented cases of the lost merely leads us to suspect that this numeration is wanting.
“From Europe’s High tech command centers (Frontex) the surface of the waters is searched for signs of life invisible to the naked eye. Too often the target craft are never seen again, someday the depths of the waters may be sounded, revealing and humanizing the magnitude of this tragedy. Until then Africans and Europeans struggle to see the vanishing point of this crisis.”