Abstracts Africa e Mediterraneo n. 82, 2015

Paola Parmiggiani, Social Communication on Migration and Asylum in Italy

The paper reflects on the role of campaigns in the deconstruction of the mainstream media representation that feeds the collective view on migrants and refugees in Italy. Moreover, it focuses on the role of campaigns to hinder the “securitarian” and “humanitarian” frame, which is strongly connected to the emergency image and the spectacle of suffering. This is an effort to raise awareness on the issues of anti-racism, solidarity and inclusion, which, unfortunately, despite best intentions, fails to produce a different idea of migration, with the risk of reiterating a stereotyped image of cultural diversity.

Pierluigi Musarò, Cosmopolitan Solidarity Vs. National Belonging: How Many More Deaths Can we Tolerate?

This article analyses the role of media and their narration of the “tragedy of migration”, flooding Europe with images of exhausted, abandoned people landing on its shores. The thesis of the author is that this “humanitarian narration” hides ambiguities and paradoxes, first of all the distance between this kind of rhetoric and the actual policies of migration enforced by the EU, brutally tackling the phenomenon in order to preserve Fortress Europe.

Valeria Lai, Asylum Seekers and Refugees. Fear of Invasion and Insecurity

In times of crisis and economic uncertainty, personal frustration creates an atmosphere of widespread social unease. The phenomenon of migration is at the centre of Italian media coverage and the landing of boats on Italian shores still stands as a media symbol, often failing to address important factors of migration, such as the root causes for leaving a country and the plan which most migrants have in mind. From the audience’s perspective, such migrants are usually considered as clandestine and represent a “problem” or “threat” to public order and security. The media collects and at times reflects on these public concerns and is responsible for a correct coverage of the migration phenomenon.

Monia Andreani, Safety, Health and Emergency: The Communication of the Ebola Virus in the Italian Press and in Risk Perception for Public Health

In 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an International Public Health Emergency of international concern for the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa. According to the official documents, in Italy the risk of contracting this disease was very low; nevertheless, the circulation of false news about presumed cases of people falling ill with Ebola sparked a major problem in the Country. The article focuses on the official and media communication about the virus, emphasizing in particular the racist background surrounding most of the false news. Furthermore, the article analyses a few articles from the Italian press, which deal with the falsity of such news rather than informing the readers about the risk of the Ebola disease.

Marcella Pasotti, Andreas Damgaard Sørensen, Migrants’ Voices: Resisting and Rejecting the Mainstream Discourse on Migration

The authors certify the existence of a social discourse on African migrants in Europe as a monolithic and undetermined ethnic group of desperate immigrants who lived every sort of atrocities and cannot express themselves without the help of the “good Western”. Starting from here they explore different forms of refusal of this discourse – examining the work of two writers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Fatou Diome – and of resistance to this representation by spreading alternative images, taking as examples the African Students’ Association (ASA) of Ithaca College, NY, and the blog “Africa is a Country”.

Caterina Soldati, The Social Media: Instruments of Social Inclusion? A Research Among Asylum Seekers in the Bologna Area

This paper focuses on how social media is used by asylum seekers and refugees. Data collected in different reception facilities in Bologna shows that asylum seekers and refugees are using these communication channels mostly to keep in touch with their family rather than to look for new contacts and friends. Therefore social media enhances the possibilities of maintaining strong ties, but does not facilitate the other ties which are fundamental to the social inclusion of the forced migrants.

Nelly Diop, Returning from Dakar

In this article, shaped almost as a correspondence from Dakar, Nelly Diop shows to the readers a perspective of the immigration across the Mediterranean that we Europeans, being basically informed only by our media, may very well either ignore or be misled about. She also gives an aperçu of the reasons and the impact of migration in Senegal, and gives us valuable information on what are the effects of such migration on the government and how it models its political decisions, while she also provides few specimens of public opinion.

Maria Laura Romani, Representing Emigration: Perspectives from the Arab World

The aim of this article is to analyze the representation of emigration, as described in some illustrations by contemporary Arab artists. In this particular article, the main reference is the Egyptian nation, where journalistic illustrations about emigration and death at sea have been increasingly represented in recent years. Another source of reference is the Internet, one of the main tools used to express and spread illustrations by Arab artists. These journalistic illustrations underline the topic of emigration and provide us with an unusual vision of Europe through a new communicative form of expression.

Simona Cella, Cinema will Either be Political, or it won’t. Whispers, Cries and Visions from the New African Cinema

In contrast to the past, the New African Cinema no longer needs to shout to make its political voice heard on the international arena. It can project onto the screen, a more polished and calmer tone and be just as well, or even better, heard by the audience. In a journey from Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, which is likely to win the Oscar for best foreign movie, to Kaouther Ben Hania’s mockumentary, the article introduces some of the most interesting African films featured at the last edition of the Festival of African, Asian and Latin American Cinema in Milan.

Mary Angela Schroth, The Enwezor Venice Biennale

The 2015 Venice Biennale was the first in history to be directed by a non-European curator, the Nigerian-born art star Okwui Enwezor. His Biennale, entitled “All the world’s futures”, represented a clear break from the Eurocentrism of past editions, including more than 100 artists from across the world, at least a third of whom were from Africa. Mary-Angela Schroth, director of Sala 1 (a non-profit space in Rome dedicated to contemporary art) and author of the article, displays the artists’ take on current topics and events from around the world and how they address war, violence, racism, the difficulties of workers and transmigration.

Flore Thoreau La Salle, The Order of Things: Social Order and Insubordination in the Photographic Sequence

Photography, seen as an art capable of introducing a faithful replica of reality, has always been chosen as an instrument to archive, classify and organise reality. This assumption forms the basis of the exhibition, “The Order of Things: Photography from the Walther Collection” at the Walther Collection Museum in Neu-Ulm, Germany. The exhibition, taking its name from the homonymous essay by Michel Foucault, investigates the theme of systematic sequences of pictures. In what way does the inherent order of a sequence of sociological or anthropological pictures reflect an artificial, misleading, imposed and oppressive social order?

Luca Bussotti, The Representation of Africa in Italian Pop Music: from the First Colonial Experiences to Fascism

The Italian colonial experience in Africa, which started at the end of the 19th Century, introduced a set of images of the continent that influenced many artistic fields in Italy. Such representations of Africa also remained strong during the second wave of colonial expansion under the fascist regime, with an added touch of racism towards the African culture. Despite a partial revision of the negative African stereotypes after the end of Fascism, Italian art, and in particular music, was only able to get rid of its “exotic” outlook on Africa at the beginning of the 1980s.

Francesca Romana Paci, For André Brink

André Brink, who died aged 79 in February 2015, is one of the most important and appreciated voices of South African Literature. A prolific, extremely well-read, multilingual, imaginative writer, his strong and courageous political and social stance in denouncing the Apartheid regime’s horrors, silences and connivances, together with his numerous novels and non-fiction writings gained him reputation and respect all over the world. The article, after providing an overview of his works, offers a closer reading of passages from some of the most representative of his novels and political writings.

Redazione, Les Mohameds by Jérôme Ruiller, Strangers from Father to Son

Les Mohamed is a graphic novel by Jérôme Ruillier. Freely inspired by the book Mémoires d’immigrés by Yamina Benguigui, it depicts several portraits of first, or second-generation immigrants from Maghreb. Each brings their own story and their personal connection with their country of origin. The ordinary or extraordinary destinies of these women and men, who are represented as cats, are portrayed in black and white in order to stop the reader from focusing on the differences on skin colour.

Claudia Marà, Paul Panda Farnana. A Forgotten Life

Paul Panda Farnana. Une vie oubliée is a collective graphic novel by Asimba Bathy, Djemba Djeis, Dody Lobela and Yann Kumbozi, based on research by the historian, Antoine Tshitungu. It is about the life of Paul Panda Farnana. Born in Belgian Congo in 1890, he was educated in Belgium and then returned to Congo as a colonial officer. Despite his ambiguous position that may have been the cause of his premature death, he was a strong advocate for the Congolese right to a secular education and supported his people from within the colonial apparatus.