Luxembourg’s Ellis Island in Dudelange

We stand on the summit of a hill in sweltering heat. “This is our Ellis island,” says Nicolas flourishing his hand across the landscape. “It’s where migrants first came to Luxembourg and, indeed, still come.” But instead of Atlantic waves lapping beneath our feet railway tracks, bordered by disused steelworks, sweep towards France. And, across … Continue reading Luxembourg’s Ellis Island in Dudelange

What’s in a building? – migrants across the Channel in the National Museum of Immigration History (Paris, France)

Whoever thought of siting the Cite National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (National Museum of Immigration History – CNHI, Paris) in the former Palace of the Colonies posed a challenge for the curators. It is undoubtedly an impressive Art Deco building from the 1930s. Intricate naked or half naked stone figures, working cocoa, coffee, cotton or … Continue reading What’s in a building? – migrants across the Channel in the National Museum of Immigration History (Paris, France)

Lovely Lampedusa and PortoM – M for Mediterranean, Migration, Memory or Militarisation?

A mural of faces in different hues of blue, green, red, yellow and white painted by Amnesty. Abandoned boats, on spare ground overlooking the port – three from Libya and two from Tunisia. A cluster of coastguard boats nestled against the harbour wall, designed to rescue people more easily from the sea. In the distance … Continue reading Lovely Lampedusa and PortoM – M for Mediterranean, Migration, Memory or Militarisation?

Art and anarchists at Asinitas and Italy’s National Museum of Emigration

We stand in two lines facing each other in a hall in Garbatella, a garden suburb built for the working classes during the Fascist era. The hall is used by Asinitas, a charity working with migrants, that follows the enlightened methods of such educationalists as Montessori and Cemea. “Buongiorno,” we sing, orchestrated by Carolina. “Buongiorno, … Continue reading Art and anarchists at Asinitas and Italy’s National Museum of Emigration

Grafitti, pickpockets and Satanic cults in Rome

As I leave Lucca, I open up my book, Let the Games Begin by Niccolo Ammaniti. ‘A raunchy and satirical romp,’ says Ian Rankin. ‘Debauchery on an epic scale,’ writes Big Issue. But I’m struggling. Take the characters for a start. There’s Fabrizio, in his crumpled designer suit, who is struggling to write a best … Continue reading Grafitti, pickpockets and Satanic cults in Rome