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Migration and Social Suffering

Il prof. Alessandro Pinzani (Universidad Federal de Santa Catarina) tiene un seminario di filosofia nell'ambito del ciclo Colloquium "Philosophy & Global Affairs" per gli studenti del corso di laurea magistrale in Global Politics and Euro-Mediterranean Relations

Lezione del prof. Alessandro Pinzani (Universidad Federal de Santa Catarina) sul tema "Migration and Social Suffering" per Colloquium "Philosophy & Global Affairs", organizzato dal prof. Luigi Caranti nell'ambito del corso di laurea magistrale in Global Politics and Euro-Mediterranean Relations (Dipartimento di Scienze politiche e sociali, Università di Catania).


The phenomenon of migration is discussed mostly from the point of view of its economic and political consequences, or, alternatively, from the point of view of the suffering the migrants go through both in their country and in the process of migration itself (the difficult trip, the arrival, the fight with bureaucracy etc.). Seldom one discusses the suffering provoked by the fact of being seen and of seeing oneself as a migrant, as an alien (to use the bureaucratic term). The paper aims at focusing on this aspect while, at the same time, establishing a parallel with those individuals who live in the economically developed countries (i.e. in the countries that migrants aim at reaching) and became useless for the economic system (the unemployed, the precariously employed, retired people etc.). Apparently these go through a different form of social suffering, but this form of suffering is close to that of migrants because in both cases their existence ceases to have any moral relevance. Public sphere and politics treat both exclusively from an economic point of view, discussing the costs of unemployment, of paying pensions, of receiving and maintaining a vast number of migrants etc. Both migrants and ?useless? persons lose their humanity and become mere numbers, while their problems are described exclusively in terms of data, tables etc. Starting from the above, the paper will offer a general definition of social suffering as systemic suffering, and will discuss the way in which what I call pervasive doctrines constitute an essential moment of the very fabric of society in economically developed countries by formulating the main goals of both individual and social life. In other words, pervasive doctrines are part of the basic structure of society and, therefore, represent a major cause of social suffering as structural suffering. Their critique is a necessary step in order to better understand how this suffering is produced and can be avoided or at least reduced.

My argument shall not follow a strictly normative perspective; rather it shall start with a brief social diagnosis based on the way migrants and welfare recipients are treated in Western societies. It will then move forward with an analysis of social suffering and its causes. It is indebted to the tradition of Critical Theory rather than to Rawls, say.

Alessandro Pinzani

Alessandro Pinzani is native from Florence, where he studied philosophy, obtaining his laurea (M.A.) in 1992. 1997 he made his Ph.D. in philosophy (under to supervision of Otfried Höffe) at the University of Tübingen, where he served as a lecturer from 1997 to 2004 and where he received his Habilitation (2004). In 2001-2002 he was a visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York, with a Feodor-Lynen-Fellowship from the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Foundation. He was a visiting professor at the PUC-RS of Porto Alegre (2000 and 2001) and at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil (2003), where he got a position as professor for ethics and political philosophy (2004) ? a position he still holds. Since 2006 he is also a Fellow Researcher of CNPq (Level 1D). He was a visiting scholar at the universities of Berlin (Humboldt-University, 2010-11) and Florence (2015-16) with fellowships from Capes. He was a visiting professor at the universities of Dresden (2013) and Bochum (2016).
His main research field is political philosophy, with special emphasis on modern political theory, on Kant?s practical thought and on theories of social justice. Among his books: Jürgen Habermas (Munich, 2007), An den Wurzeln moderner Demokratie (Berlin, 2009), Vozes do Bolsa Família (with Walquíria Leão Rego, São Paulo 2013).

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