Journal of Romance Studies

Defamiliarizing Mediterranean migration in contemporary visual culture and literature

Journal of Romance Studies (2022), 22, (1), 105–131.

Abstract

Mediterranean migration is often spectacularized by contemporary global media, creating a hyper-determined discourse that any art form engaging with the migrant experience must consider. On the premise that the aesthetic qualities of visual arts and literature have the potential to destabilize sensationalist rhetoric and produce a more complex understanding of Mediterranean migration, I focus on representations of migration by sea from Northern Africa toward Europe in works from the exhibition The Restless Earth/La terra inquieta (Milan, 2017) and the Italian short story La via del pepe: finta fiaba africana per europei benpensanti (2014), by Massimo Carlotto. I show how strategies such as the integrated use of documentary and imaginative elements, the multimodal metaphoric dimension developed through word and image, and the use of irony may compel the viewer/reader to take an active role in the creation of meaning, contributing to more inclusive and relational approaches to the experience of migrants.

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Piantanida, Cecilia