Valeria G. Castelli

Valeria Castelli (New York University)

Valeria G. Castelli is an instructor at New York University. She was a 2018-20 Visiting Research Scholar at The Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School. In 2017-18, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. In 2016-17, she was a Postdoctoral College Core Curriculum Teaching Fellow at NYU. Her research agenda focuses on how socially engaged documentary filmmakers deal with climate and mobility injustice, social inequality, and racism, as well as how they can catalyze social and narrative change. She received her Ph.D. in Italian Studies from NYU, her M.Sc. in Political Science in Analysis, Prevention and Combat of Organized Crime and Corruption from University of Pisa, and her M.A. in Italian Studies from University College of London.

ABSTRACT: as presented by Valeria G. Castelli and Giulia Sbaffi

Waiting as Captivity: A Reading of Postcolonial Practices of Domination over Migrants’ Lives through Film

In this presentation, we examine how migrants’ lives are controlled by means of the politicized waiting of today’s border regime through the analysis of Shahram Khosravi and Dagmawi Yimer’s Waiting (2020). This short film deals with waiting as an instrument of domination, power, and control over migrants. It integrates an academic reflection on the relationship between waiting and migration with the stories of individual migrants in order to reach a broader audience. As Khosravi explains in Waiting, today’s border practices steal and exploit migrants’ time, exactly like colonial practices stole and exploited natural and human resources in previous eras. “Keeping people in waiting is a punishment,” Khosravi says, “a punishment for being a foreigner and for having thus arrived late.”

We consider this reflection timely and illuminating, especially given how the Covid-19 pandemic has further worsened migrants’ precarious conditions. Waiting sheds light on the still too common exploitation and discrimination suffered by migrants by telling the story of Salif, a former schoolteacher from Burkina Faso. After crossing the Mediterranean in 2014, Salif arrived in Italy where he started working as a fruit picker in agricultural regions of both Southern and Northern Italy.