University of Leicester
2016MartignoniMPhD.pdf (3.47 MB)

Postcolonial Organising: An Oral History of the Eritrean Community in Milan

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posted on 2016-06-10, 12:17 authored by Martina Martignoni
This thesis explores the politics of self-organising of the Eritrean community in Milan and investigates the interconnections between postcoloniality, migration, difference and organising. Postcoloniality is seen as a crucial time-space for contemporary forms of organising. I employ a postcolonial approach not only to understand the historical environment in which my research is placed but also to imagine new forms of organising that involve migrants in Europe. I approach the problem of organising by engaging with literature on diversity management and multiculturalism. Moving from a critique of these practices I look for alternative forms of organising – specifically inside social movements – and ask what the effects of bringing postcolonial critique to bear organisational practices are and what does it mean to organise in a postcolonial way. Oral history, the methodology I use, shares with postcolonial studies the attempt of deconstructing a homogenous approach to history, giving value instead to subjectivity and to radical conflicts around heterogeneity. I examine the history of the Eritrean community in Milan from the vantage point of the lives of Eritrean migrants and second generations and I argue that two interrelated activities shaped their politics: practices of self-organisation in everyday life and the diasporic organization when dealing with politics concerning Eritrea. An analysis of this interrelation brings me to discuss what self-organising looks like in postcoloniality and what is the role of difference in it. While difference has often been connected to identities, I argue that the experience of the Eritreans in Milan suggests looking at difference as defined by practices. Difference comes to be a constituent divergence that rejects relativism and comparison. By thinking the relationship between postcoloniality and organization the thesis aims to contribute to the imagination of new forms of organising among differences.



Papadopoulos, Dimitris; Brewis, Jo

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Management

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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