Palermo: The Black Mediterranean

Friday 22 October 2021

Ismail Einashe presents “Palermo: The Black Mediterranean – Collaborative, Investigative Methods in a Frontier Place”


Situated at the edge of Europe, Palermo has long been a cultural melting pot. At the crossroads of Africa and Europe and the Middle East, it is a city straddling the ‘black Mediterranean’, a term first coined by Italian academic Alessandra Di Maio in 2012 inspired by Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic (1993).

Working on location from Palermo as an investigative journalist, Ismail Einashe walks us through the many sensory layers and experiences of the southern European city. In this intimate journey, Einashe explores questions of contested ownership and different claims and understandings of the public sphere; who has the right to talk about ‘place’ and ‘belonging’; how we tell stories of place through the rituals of everyday living in the city – capturing moments, tempo and rhythms; and how to narrate sensory, layered, historical and contemporary experiences of place.

Einashe engages with Palermo as a city riven with layered histories – histories being reshaped by contemporary arrivals from outside Europe. These are not ‘new’ histories, since everyone has been in Palermo: Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Spanish.

Einashe reflects on how the tools of investigative journalism – interviews, data, trauma-informed reporting, cross-border, and diverse, collaborative forms of journalism – might align and compliment experimental, embedded approaches of socially engaged art practice; how both practices can mutually inform each other to gain a more vital sense of urban citizenship and how local places are continuously transformed through different waves of migration.

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