Merrill describes Black Spaces as “an ethnographically grounded study that draws on historical and conceptual materials to offer a theoretical and methodological approach to the study of Black Geographies. It analyzes how immigrants, refugees of African origin, and African Italians experience and reject anti-blackness in Italy.
“Italy is a country that has transformed from a place of out migration to one of immigration over the past several decades,” Merrill said. “These problems of asylum, immigration, and citizenship are shared throughout the European Union, and in the United States.”
She said the book is useful for anyone interested in understanding “how anti-blackness works to dehumanize in fundamental yet hidden ways, how it is concealed in plain sight yet produced, how it disguises intensely interconnected transcultural societies, and how people of African ancestry live in it with profound humanity and ingenuity.”
Black Spaces offers a lens through which to make sense of modern racial systems and how they are lived. Chapters discuss Italian colonialism, everyday interactions, the impacts of “implicit” anti-blackness, the emergence of Black identity across differences, and the refugee experience including the occupation of the Ex-Moi Olympic apartment buildings in Turin.
In a review, Daphne Lamothe of Smith College called Black Spaces “a vital investigation of African migrant experiences in contemporary Italy,” noting that the book provides “a formidable account of the workings of race and nation, power and relation in the modern era.”