States of Grace was first published in 1997. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Leaving their depleted fields for better prospects, Senegalese immigrants have made their way to Italy in significant numbers. What this migration means, in the context of both the migratory traditions and conditions of Africa and the history and future of the European nation-state, is the subject of this timely and ambitious book.
Focusing on Turin, the northern Italian point of entry for so many Senegalese, States of Grace chronicles the arrival and formation of a transnational African Islamic community in a largely Catholic Western European country, one that did not have immigrant legislation until 1991. With no colonial relation to Italy, the Senegalese represent the vanguard of population movements expanding outside of the arch of former colonial powers.
Donald Martin Carter locates the Senegalese migration in the context of past African internal and international migration and of present crises in West African agriculture. He also shows how the Senegalese migration, constituting a "phenomenon" and catalyzing new immigration restrictions among European states, calls into question the European interstate system, the future of the nation-state, and the nature of its relationship with non-European states.
Throughout Europe, protectionist immigration policies are often crafted in chauvinist and racist tones in which "migrants" is a euphemism for blacks, Arabs, and Asians. States of Grace uses Senegalese migration to demonstrate that racial conceptions are crucial to understanding the classifications of non-national "outside" and internal "other." The book is a bracing encounter with the ever-increasing cultural and ethnic heterogeneity that is the new and pressing reality of European society.
Donald Martin Carter is visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.