Gian Luigi Corinto

People on the Road: Cases on Cross-border and Internal Human Movements

Edited by
Gian Luigi Corinto


Motives of human mobility are multifarious and governed by individual decisions, yet immersed in local institutions, habits and life experience. Through movements, humanity has always spread in all parts of the world, even if their global features are today more stressed than in the past. This is probably due to a new velocity and the impressive communicational dimension of the phenomenon. Global change is at issue to geography as well as anthropology, sociology, urban planning, and the earth sciences that their studies on climate change. At large, human mobility studies has been interested in movements per se rather in deep surveying social groups and places involved. Mobility of people, as a matter of fact, causes new relations between places and diverse communities, increasing the complexity of the social environment, with strong implications in life-style changes for both host and migrating communities. Migration has many evident economic effects, but also sociocultural and political issues are involved, which are worth of better understanding; for instance, conceptualizing human mobility needs to treat also objects that are immobile in the space, such as borders, institutions, nations, and States.
Migration involves time duration of trip and spatial dimension of mobility, anyway a permanent change of residence and a more or less voluntary decision. In theory, distinction between voluntary and involuntary migration is a continuum between the two extremes. The cause of involuntary migration is quite clear as in the case of war refugees. Notwithstanding, even when the trip is forced by any sort of occurrence, human behavior can be characterized by some voluntary choices, regarding for example the final destination and the necessary assets to carry. Spatiality of migration is linked to the type of border to be crossed, with a usual distinction between internal and international borders, or regarding movements from rural to urban areas, and vice versa. All these distinctions may results partial and should be treated by many different disciplines methods in order to avoid generalizations. Although scholars can classify migrations as seasonal, temporary, recurrent, continuous, indefinite, and permanent, it is clear that migrants in reality do not have a precise notion on when and if they will return or move on from their current location. In short sum, it is impossible to state a rigid definition, and a rigid classification of the phenomenon. It remains critical the possibility to have a more feasible documentation on the global phenomenon in order to design an effective migration policy.
Features of human migration have been always complex and highly intertwined over history, depending on dynamics of socioeconomic and environmental issues at global, regional, and local levels. Recently, climate change received a large scientific research attention, still the unstoppable human search for a better life needs a more articulated explanation about the powerful socioeconomic drivers that induce cross-border and internal migrations, legal and illegal movements, free travels or trafficking. Worldwide, these drivers are causing the concentration of people in mega-cities, land degradation, changing patterns of cultivation and animal breeding, and loss of natural resources. Furthermore, ongoing global changes in human societies will produce more powerful economic, political and social migrating motives. This means that the phenomenon is likely to continue regardless of environmental change. Human beings, over time and space, are likely to migrate to places of environmental vulnerability as well as to escape from other risky places. The main example of this is the increasing spreading of urban area in floodplains, everywhere in the world, and especially in Africa and Asia, in less developed areas.
In this framework, the governance of migration is per se a typical “wicked problem”, which needs a new government model and broader theoretical approaches.
At the core of the problem are the features of territory, which is the agent mediating socioeconomic relationships both at local and global scale. It is the basis of a complex and vital network of material and immaterial flows of humans carrying through the space cultural traditions, ideas together with objects and practices. Territory is the passive and active agent of human mobility, attracting or rejecting human movements and determining the more or less favorable condition for local development.
This book gathers a reasoned collection of different essays on human mobility and migrations, not with the impossible intention of an exhaustive deepening, but the more realistic goal of giving examples of theoretical and operative researches carried out on human movements on the earth by scholars of diverse disciplines, from Anthropology to Sociology, from Geography to Politics. The book contains seven chapters treating some of the several aspects of human mobility.
The paper of A. Ahouach and M. Cherkaoui, Participation of Symbolic Beliefs in the Water preservation: case in the Western High Atlas in Morocco, is dedicated to the problem of the symbolic beliefs related to water in shaping behaviors of individuals in a way that preserve this resource. Water is a fundamental resource for local communities in geographical areas at risk for its future lacking. Even though some people with strong symbolic beliefs are still active in agriculture and land exploitation, the phenomenon is declining amongst young people, educated people and also large landowners market oriented. The sacred symbolism and religious meaning of water helped past generations in preserving the resources, being their behaviors clearly linked to a durable use of water.
In her paper, The geography of migrations between causes, definitions and permanent identities. The case of Apulian Arbëria, A. Ivona treats the case of the Italian Arberia, a linguistic-cultural island today present only in some areas of central-southern Italy, which has a very ancient history of difficult social integration. Albanians are in Italy since very far away time, as a first migration phenomenon between the two shores of the Adriatic Sea could be dated to 1272, with the conquest of the port city of Durazzo by the King of Sicily Charles I of Anjou. The paper through a geo-historical perspective shows the origins, the current situation and the future of the Italian Arbëreshë communities.
The paper of G. L. Corinto and F. Curzi is dedicated to a contemporary human movement along a religious route. Their paper, Routes of Saint Francis in Apennine Central Italy, Some Lessons from Social Media Analysis, focuses on the presence of Saint Francis’ religious heritage in some inner areas of Central Italy. This part of Italy is a fertile area for tourism innovation, based on the design and practice of religious itineraries of the Saint Patron of Italy. The area is close but out of one of the more practiced itineraries of the European Cultural Routes, the Via Francigena, which is a booming tourist product. Thus the case is valid for interpreting the trekking reality produced by interactive performances between residents and tourists, also through the increasing use of social media.
Furthermore, G. L. Corinto dedicated the paper entitled Human Migrations: Climate Change and Other Not-So-Simple Motives. A “Clumsy” Governance Is Necessary, to make a reasoned review on the highly controversial issue of climate change induced migrations. About this topic, popular opinions do diverge from academic positions, and scientific and popular positions, and related global policies are divergent also on the more general issue of human migrations. The issue is a “wicked problem”, in the sense anthropologist Mary Douglas gave to the term, probably resolved only by means of “clumsy solutions”, that means that shortcuts in policy making can be not useful, otherwise requesting the adoption of more fatiguing tools capable of involving people in producing accepted and thus more effective policies for governing human migrations.
The paper Causes and Factors in the Granting of International Protection to Asylum Applicants in Spain Between 2008 and 2016 has been written by F. J. García-Delgado, J. Felicidades-García, R. C. Lois-González, and M. De-La-Rosa-Martínez. Their work is dedicated to the analysis of the changes in the asylum applications submitted and the international protection applications granted in the case of Spain during the 2008-2016 period through the official sources gathered from the Ministry of Interior.
The paper of S. Cannizzaro New York’s Little Italy: from Ethnic Enclave to Tourist Attraction treats how the Italian migrants to the United States created their own places, not merely by concentrating more inhabitants than preexisting locals, but changing appearance and meaning of spaces by performing their own community life. Many “Little Italies” were enclosed in urban areas in the US, whilst New York’s Little Italy is the
oldest and the most famous one. Now this area changed appearance and social meaning, mostly after 2009, when Chinatown and Little Italy has been recorded as a unique historic district. Little Italy is today a bus-tour destination, and a food and wine venue.
The last paper of F. De Pascale and D. Di Matteo is dedicated to The transhumance perception: a macro-regional phenomenon in the Mediterranean basin. A comparison between verbal descriptions of the tradition in Calabria and Molise (Southern Italy). The paper analyzed the phenomenon of transhumance by comparing the traditions of Calabria and Molise (southern Italy), dwelling in particular on the witnesses of a Calabrian shepherd and the son of a shepherd from Molise. The future of this activity is endangered by contemporary features of changes in inner areas, where traditional breeding is no more remunerative and facing a global competition. Anyway, new generations of shepherds could be able to develop new forms of resilient development of a very ancient activity strictly linked to human and animal movement is specific environmental conditions.


Gian Luigi Corinto. Geografo, nato nel 1953 a Gambassi Terme, vive a Firenze e insegna Geografia del territorio e dell’ambiente nell’Università di Macerata. Attualmente si occupa di due temi di ricerca: la pratica artistica come metodo di educazione alla responsabilità ambientale e la narrazione mitologica del limite imposto dagli dei all’agire tracotante dell’umanità verso la natura e il mondo. È socio dell’AGeI, Associazione dei Geografi Italiani, all’interno della quale partecipa ai gruppi nazionali di ricerca su “Media e Geografia” e “Una rete ecomuseale per la valorizzazione delle identità locali” del quale è vice-coordinatore. È autore di oltre centocinquanta pubblicazioni scientifiche edite su riviste e libri nazionali ed esteri, tra le ultime: Opera lirica e spazio: aveva ragione John Cage? in Configurazionie e Trasfigurazioni, Discorsi sul Paesaggio Mediato, a cura di G. Messina, L. D’Agostino, Nuova Trauben edizioni, 2021; Nessun dorma! Lo spazio sonoro del Festival Pucciniano di Torre del Lago, in Turismo musicale: storia, geografia, didattica, a cura di R. Cafiero, G. Lucarno. R.G. Rizzo, G. Onorato, Pàtron editore, 2020; La Belle Époque di Montecatini Terme e la sua eredità artistico-architettonica, in Geotema, 60, 2019; (in collaborazione) Viticulture and Landscape in the Italian Northwestern Alpine Region, in Geography Notebooks, 2, 2019. È editor della rivista International Journal of Anthropology, Angelo Pontecorboli Editore, con il quale ha pubblicato nel 2020 i libri Pinocchio Fiorentino, L’Etna di Pier Paolo Pasolini, Le Jardin, c’est moi! Luigi XIV, Apollo e il giardino di Versailles e, nel 2019, Dioniso il dio straniero. È stato direttore responsabile di Rivista d’Arte e di Over (oltre/verso), Atena edizioni, Pietrasanta.