The «invisible enemy» and the usual suspects. How Covid-19 re-framed migration in Italian media representations

Author/s Elena Giacomelli, Pierluigi Musarò, Paola Parmiggiani
Publishing Year 2021 Issue 2020/60 Language English
Pages 18 P. 119-136 File size 242 KB
DOI 10.3280/SC2020-060011
DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation click here

Below, you can see the article first page

If you want to buy this article in PDF format, you can do it, following the instructions to buy download credits

Article preview

FrancoAngeli is member of Publishers International Linking Association, Inc (PILA), a not-for-profit association which run the CrossRef service enabling links to and from online scholarly content.

The last decade has been characterized by an intense inflow of people into borders of what has been called the "Fortress Europe". Italian governments, from Gentiloni-Minniti to Conte-Salvini, have implemented restrictive border management and migration control measures, fueled also by an over mediatization of the issue in and by public discourses. However, from February 2020 public debates and narratives have been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, a health emergency often described as a war against an invisible enemy. Through a qualitative analysis of Italian media representations, this paper analyses how Covid-19 overshadowed and reframed migration narratives and discourses. Moving within the concept of (in)visibility, this paper explores the two macrodiscourses around migration during the lockdown: on one side, the link between migration and illness (fear of infection) that led to strict border security measures; on the other, the utilitaristic x\regularization of migrants working in informal economy. The conclusion reflects on long-term implications of the pandemic on mobility justice (Sheller 2018) and what Mbembe (2020) has defined the "right to breath".

Keywords: Migration discourses; Covid-19; emergency; news media; narratives.

  1. Ambrosetti E., Cela E. (2015), Demography of Race and Ethnicity in Italy, in Saenz R., Rodriguez N., Embrick D. (eds.), The International Handbook of the Demography of Race and Ethnicity, Springer, New York.
  2. Ambrosini M. (2011), Sociologia delle migrazioni , il Mulino, Bologna, .
  3. Amnesty International (2019), Barometro dell’odio. Elezioni europee 2019, -- Available at: Banulescu-Bogdan N., Benton M., Fratzke S. (2020), Coronavirus is spreading across borders, but it is not a migration problem, Migration Policy Institute, Washington.
  4. Baretta P. (eds.) (2019), Notizie senza approdo. Settimo Rapporto Carta di Roma, --
  5. Bauman Z. (1996), Tourists and vagabonds: heroes and victims of postmodernity, Institut für Höhere Studien (IHS), Vienna.
  6. - (2006), Liquid Fear, Polity Press, Cambridge.
  7. - (2016), Strangers at Our Door, Polity Press, Cambridge.
  8. Bentivegna S., Boccia Artieri, G. (2019), Le teorie delle comunicazioni di massa e la sfida digitale, Laterza, Roma-Bari.
  9. Berger P.L., Luckmann T. (1966), The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, Doubleday & Company, New York.
  10. Binotto M., Bruno M., Lai V. (a cura di) (2016), Tracciare confini.
  11. L’immigrazione nei media italiani, FrancoAngeli, Milano.
  12. Bourdieu P. (1980), Le sens pratique, Minuit, Paris.
  13. Calvi C. (1981), L’oro, il fuoco, le forche: la peste napoletana del 1656, in «Archivio Storico Italiano» 139(3): 405-458.
  14. Censis (2018), Rapporto sulla situazione sociale del Paese 2018, FrancoAngeli, Milano.
  15. Censis (2018), Rapporto sulla situazione sociale del Paese 2018, FrancoAngeli, Milano.
  16. Chakraborty I., Maity P. (2020), COVID-19 outbreak: Migration, effects on society, global environment and prevention, in «The Science of the total environment», 728:138882.
  17. Colombo F., Gili F. (2012), Comunicazione, cultura, società. L’approccio sociologico alla relazione comunicativa, La Scuola, Brescia.
  18. Dal Lago A. (1999), Non persone. L’esclusione dei migranti in una società globale, Feltrinelli, Milano.
  19. Derrida J., Dufourmantelle A. (1997), Sull’ospitalità, Dalai, Milano.
  20. Di Cesare D. (2020), Virus sovrano? L’asfissia capitalistica, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino.
  21. Entman R.M. (1993), Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm, in «Journal of Communication», 43(4): 51-58. --
  22. Faloppa F. (2020), #ODIO. Manuale di resistenza alla violenza delle parole, Utet, Milano.
  23. Foucault M. (1982), The Subject and Power, in «Critical Inquiry», 8(4): 777-795.
  24. Foucault M., Gordon C. (1980), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972-1977, Pantheon Books, New York.
  25. Hall S. (1992), The West and the rest: discourse and power, in S. Hall, B. Gieben (eds.), Formations of Modernity, Polity Press, Cambridge, pp. 275–331. Hollingworth S., Archer L. (2010), Urban Schools as Urban Places: School Reputation, Children’s Identities and Engagement with Education in London, in «Urban Studies», 47, 584–603.
  26. IOM (2020), World Migration Report 2020, -- available at:
  27. ISMU (2020),Venticinquesimo Rapporto sulle migrazioni 2019, FrancoAngeli, Milano.
  28. King R. (2000), Southern Europe in the changing global map of migration, in R.
  29. King, G. Lazaridis, C. Tsardanidis (eds), Eldorado or Fortress? Migration in Southern Europe, Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 1-26.
  30. Leogrande A. (2015), La frontiera, Feltrinelli, Milano.
  31. Marini R., Gerli M., (2017), Le variazioni del tema immigrazione nei media italiani: tra cambiamenti del fenomeno e pluralità degli attori, in Marchegiani M. (a cura di), Antico mare e identità migranti: un itinerario interdisciplinare, Giappichelli, Torino, pp. 164-186.
  32. Mbembe A. (2020), The Universal Right to Breathe, in «Critical Inquiry», April 2020, --
  33. McLuhan H.M. (1964), Understanding media: the extensions of man, The New American Library, New York.
  34. Milazzo G. (a cura di) (2020), Notizie di Transito. VIII Rapporto della Carta di Roma, Osservatorio di Pavia, Associazione Carta di Roma.
  35. Musarò P., Parmiggiani P. (2017), Beyond Black and White: The Role of Media
  36. in Portr ying and Policing Migration and Asylum in Italy, in «Revue
  37. Internationale de Sociologie», 27(2), 241-260. DOI: 10.1080/03906701.2017.132903
  38. Musarò P., Parmiggiani P. (eds.) (2014), Media e migrazioni, FrancoAngeli, Milano.
  39. Pogliano A. (2020), Media, politica e migrazioni in Europa. Una prospettiva sociologica, Carocci, Roma.
  40. Preciado P.B. (2020), Learning from the virus, in «ArtForum», May/June 2020. --
  41. Rose G. (2012), Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Methods, Sage, London.
  42. Sayad A. (1999), La double absence. Des illusions de l’émigré aux souffrances de l’immigré, Seuil, Paris.
  43. Sheller M. (2018), Mobility justice: The politics of movement in an age of extremes, Mimi Sheller, New York.
  44. Sontag S. (1990), Illness as metaphor and, AIDS and its metaphors, Doubleday, New York.
  45. Van Hear V., Cohen R. (2017), Visions of Refugia: territorial and transnational solutions to mass displacement, in «Planning Theory and Practice», 18(3): 494-504. DOI: 10.1080/14649357.2017.133023
  46. Wodak R. (2015), The politics of fear. What right-wing discourses mean, Sage, London.

  • Quarantine Ships as Spaces of Bordering: The Securitization of Migration Policy in Italy During the COVID-19 Pandemic Nicola Montagna, in International Migration Review /2023 pp.019791832311545
    DOI: 10.1177/01979183231154560
  • The Emergence of New Street-Level Bureaucracies in Italy’s Asylum Reception System Elena Giacomelli, in Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies /2021 pp.272
    DOI: 10.1080/15562948.2021.1939471
  • Viral bodies: racialised and gendered logics in the securitisation of migration during COVID-19 in Italy Agnese Pacciardi, in Critical Studies on Security /2023 pp.176
    DOI: 10.1080/21624887.2023.2248437
  • Da "angeli del mare" a "complici dei trafficanti": la politicizzazione del discorso sovranista contro le ONG umanitarie Dario Lucchesi, Andrea Cerase, in MONDI MIGRANTI 2/2023 pp.153
    DOI: 10.3280/MM2023-002009

Elena Giacomelli, Pierluigi Musarò, Paola Parmiggiani, The «invisible enemy» and the usual suspects. How Covid-19 re-framed migration in Italian media representations in "SOCIOLOGIA DELLA COMUNICAZIONE " 60/2020, pp 119-136, DOI: 10.3280/SC2020-060011