'Not enough benches in the pjazza': Forced migrants, integration, and Maltese identity

Muscat-Moulton, A. (2013) 'Not enough benches in the pjazza': Forced migrants, integration, and Maltese identity. Masters theses, University of Southampton; University of Chichester.

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Immigration to the European Union is on the rise and the island of Malta is no exception. During the last decade, Malta has had one of the highest rates per capita in Europe of forced migrants arriving in an irregular manner. These forced migrants, and other sub-Saharan Africans that have migrated to Malta through regular channels, are forming a growing ethnic minority of sub-Saharan Africans in Malta.

This dissertation analyses how sub-Saharan African immigrants are integrating at the community level, and how this is challenging the Maltese identity, by exploring the social interactions between the established population and immigrants, especially forced migrants. Including the perspectives of African Maltese and established African immigrants brings a new perspective to the discussion of immigrant integration in Malta since EU immigrant integration polices are particularly targeting them.

This qualitative study utilizes semi-structured interviews and participant observation with sub-Saharan African immigrants (both established immigrants and forced migrants), Maltese local councillors, and local experts in the field of migration. The fact that the researcher is both a cultural ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’, gives this dissertation an alternative and unique perspective on the phenomenon of social integration in Malta.

This research found that the Maltese are not actively seeking ways to integrate with the newly arrived forced migrants, which is resulting in a lack of social cohesion and fostering separation. It is also fuelling racism with detrimental effects on the integration of all sub-Saharan Africans in Malta. In fact racial discrimination encroaches on all the domains of Ager and Strang’s (2008) Integration Framework, especially in access to services, creating meaningful social connections, and the feeling of safety and stability.

In conclusion, migration theory suggests that immigration to Malta will continue to happen because of global relations, migrant networks, and the increasing need for labour, and will therefore inevitably have an effect upon the island diversity. In fact this dissertation demonstrates that Malta is already a multi-ethnic country. The Maltese government should embrace this diversity and adopt an integration policy instead of fostering ‘parallel lives’ by allowing a policy vacuum. An integration policy should focus primarily on combating racial discrimination and emphasising a ‘two-way process of change’.

Publication Type: Theses (Masters)
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Education, Social and Life Sciences > Social Work and Social Care
Student Research > Masters
Depositing User: Debbie Bogard
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2013 14:04
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2014 14:41
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/948

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