Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore


The issue of managing an ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by immense migratory flows is more and more present in contemporary media narratives, while governments enforces border control and repatriation polices, often carried out indiscriminately, together with staunch fights against the smuggling of migrants. In this scenario, the migrant is de-personalized and kept on the fringe of society, relegated to the most degraded areas of urban centers or kept outside the happy oasis of Western civilization by walls. Furthermore, the political discourse is always committed in seeking an “enemy”, a scapegoat towards which project the ancestral and irrational fear of what is different. The fear of a substitution of white people (today supported by the conspiracy theory of the so-called “Kalergi Plan”) was already present in media in the XX century. Robert E. Howard’s The Last White Man (1920), for example, imagined a future of racial struggles and asocial problems caused by the decline of Western society and an uncontrolled increase in population in Africa, where Muslim leaders reunited larger and larger masses.
The collapse of Western civilization was subsequently hypothesized by Jean Raspail in his 1972 novel Le Camp des Saints (The Camp of the Saints), a political fiction that imagined the apocalyptical consequences of the migrations of Indian pariahs to France, indulging in openly xenophobic content that makes the book one of the most quoted texts by neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. In 2015 it was the turn of Soumission (Submission), a political fiction by Michel Houllebecq describing the consequences of the victory of an Islamic party in the French presidential election of 2022 and the subsequent imposition of a “soft Shari’a” to which the population is bound to join in order to have an active role in society.
Cinema has explored the critical issues related to migrations through a wide variety of narrative tropes, including the zombie invasion in a French banlieue of La Horde (The Horde, 2010) or the revisiting of South African apartheid in sci-fi film District 9 (2009), in which aliens are immigrants rejected by society and constrained in a refugee camp. Similar tropes have been widely employed by TV series: Norwegian TV show Beforeigners (HBO Europe, 2019-2022), for example, is about the mysterious invasion of refugees from the past and trapped in present society, in which they are rejected by population and crammed in ghettos.