Chapter 3: The true utopia? Riace, Wim Wenders Il Volo, and the prefigurative politics of migration
Open access

This chapter takes the 3D documentary fiction film Il Volo by Wim Wenders as a lens for looking at the prefigurative politics of migration. At the centre of the film is the Italian municipality of Riace, which became famous as a laboratory for successful refugee integration and protection. From 1998 on, refugees repopulated and revitalized the almost-abandoned town, attracting the support of transnational networks and the UNHCR. The project created a space for the emergence of a different imaginary of global cooperation on migration, namely one in which the arrival of refugees is neither seen as a burden nor a threat, but as a starting point for integration, mutual benefit and conviviality. Il Volo contributed to this process in two respects: on the one hand it functioned as an amplifier of the prefigurative politics of migration, i.e. as an attempt to show that what may seem impossible is actually already being realized. Importantly, it continues to inspire admiration and emulation even after the project itself has largely failed. On the other hand, it stimulates reflection on the potential and limitations of the project, and points towards the role of identity, imagination and reflexivity.