2. A personal perspective: feelings, experiences, relations
Not all the countries involved in the Project have the same situation. Some of them, like France and Great Britain, have an experience of colonial empires and therefore a long history of interaction with far-off lands and with people coming from heterogeneous cultures. In Germany and in Belgium the arrival of migrants marked a long period in their national histories. Italy has been coping with this issue only for some decades, whereas Slovakia and Romania haven’t experienced it, yet. [read more]
We can understand why, therefore, the perception of the phenomenon varies within the different countries. In addition, the contemporary migratory wave coincides with a deep economic crisis involving the whole western system (which is stressing people’s uncertainty and fearful feelings) and with a redefinition of the national identities within the global system. In this scenery, people, according to a reaction that we can observe also in the period between the two World Wars, are more exposed to ideological and political pressures which depict immigration as a threat both to the material affluence and to the proposed “pure” national and local identities.
We can trace this perception in the whole collected material:
- The legislative measures , in some cases, seem to consider the public opinion’s fears more than the factual problems.
- The articles in the newspapers often nourish people’ stereotypes and fears, using them as news (see the Italian case).
- The accounts reflect the division in the society which depends on the people’s cultural instruments and critical judgment, too; in fact, while a part of the population realizes the good potentialities of a relationship with the newcomers and feel that we must fully respect everybody’s human rights, another part shows distrustful, unfriendly and even open racist feelings. There is a reflected evidence of this difference in the migrants’ accounts, too.
- The personal relationships (at school, work, etc) usually help to break down prejudices and ideological barriers and to face the problems in their actual dimensions.
- In general, we can say that the difficulties in the integration process are felt as more dramatic in those countries which have a recent history of immigration