The article considers one life story, emblematic of seeking refuge in Italy today. Shaneer, let’s name him so, is a middle-aged man, fled from Pakistan after forsaking a weapons’ Lord, routed through the Balkans and ended up drifting for years across the peninsula. Combining ethnography with conversation analysis, this piece revisits the accounts rendered by the author’s informant, as he struggled to find some anchorage, literally open doors, after protracted displacement and refusal of asylum. Sketching an anthropological silhouette, this refugee’s autobiography illuminates context and history, interlacing scales and temporalities of escapes and stays. Memories of persecution and hopes for a restart concur in the words of a forced migrant until his provisional halt, finally issued a humanitarian permit. Can a dialogic event in a city of sanctuary suffice for years of seclusion outside the boundaries of reception?
Sara Bonfanti’s article is part of a special issue of Studi Emigrazione (LVII, n. 220, 2020) guest-edited by Francesco Della Puppa and Giuliana Sanò – “Attraverso i confini dell’accoglienza: Traiettorie sociali, condizioni materiali e strategie di fronteggiamento di richiedenti asilo e rifugiati in Italia”.
Foto di A. Penso, Reportage “Fuori Campo” di MSF 2018.