Dr Alessandro Corso

alessandro corso


ESRC Postdoctoral Research, Oxford Department of International Development

I am an anthropologist working on migration, borders and ethics, combining existential anthropology, political theory, and artistic forms of ethnography, with a focus on the Italian island of Lampedusa. My doctoral thesis, 'Lives at the Border: Abandonment and Survival at the Frontier of Lampedusa', offers an ethnographic description of the contemporary struggles that undocumented migrants, migration workers, and locals experience within the contemporary and ongoing phenomenon of forced migration through the Mediterranean Sea.

Based on my doctoral thesis, during this ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, I have worked on my book tentatively titled “The Rock: Abandonment and Survival at the Borderland of Lampedusa”, currently under review for the University of Pennsylvania Press. Grounded in ethnographic description of extraordinarily ordinary stories, The Rock re-thinks the southernmost European frontier of irregular migration as speck of emerged land where migrants find restoration from the sea crossing, locals ought to be acknowledged for their everyday struggles, and migration workers seek to find a balance between duty and personal needs. As a result, this work’s contribution rests in re-conceptualizing the world’s deadliest border as an existential space of moral (im)possibility, where the boundaries between state absence and presence, as well as fear and mutuality, resist traditional categorization, calling for novel forms of ethnographic writing, style, and approach to the field of forced migration, border zones, and ethics.

Beyond and in conversation with ongoing academic projects and papers in review for peer-reviewed journals in the discipline, I have also written short pieces for artists and theatre performers about fear and indifference based on fieldwork, and developed collaborative projects exploring the role that art and anthropology play in impactfully disseminating knowledge on irregular migration.

My work features in an online exhibition called ‘Illustrating Anthropology’ hosted by the Royal Institute of Anthropology, available at: https://illustratinganthropology.com/alessandro-corso

; an educational project with schools available at: https://futurumcareers.com/what-if-we-could-step-in-the-shoes-of-migrants-and-inhabitants-on-the-island-of-lampedusa

; and a poetic academic blog post for Border Criminologies, available at: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2021/07/something-better

For further information, visit Alessandro’s ODID profile: https://www.qeh.ox.ac.uk/people/alessandro-corso

Current DPhil students