After crossing the sea, there is the life to come, but in the meantime there is only the wait. What happens in a place where, as everyone says, nothing happens? It all goes on inside a former motel in an urban suburb, representing thousands of similar reception and confinement venues for immigrants. The stories of the people who live in these fifteen rooms unfold: from everyday life there emerges a web of those transient inhabitants’ memories, habits, tastes, fears, hopes and aspirations. They are almost all young men in their twenties, Black, African, asylum seekers, survivors of so-called “journeys of desperation”, always waiting to find out if they will be allowed to live in the country where they have lingered for years. Biding their time, they sleep, cook, play, pray, argue, and incessantly try to prove that they deserve the rights they enjoy. Based on patient ethnographic work, the author describes the everyday life of migrants in their own words, reflecting desires, frustration, dreams, nightmares, presences, and absences.
Paolo Boccagni teaches Sociology and Diversity and Intercultural Relations at the University of Trento.