The product of a two-year interdisciplinary research project into representations of migration to Italy, this volume brings together scholarly contributions from the fields of migration studies, linguistics, media, literature and film studies as well as essays by practitioners and activists. It provides both a multi-faceted snapshot of how diverse representations of immigration capture experiences and affect decision-making dynamics and an in-depth study of how media, literature and cinema contribute to the public perception of migrants within the destination culture.
Table Of Contents
- About the editors
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- List of Illustrations
- Part 1: Media
- Invaders, Aliens and Criminals: Metaphors and Spaces in the Media Definition of Migration and Security Policies
- The Invader, or About Immigration
- The Alien, or About Contamination
- The Criminal, or About Crime News
- From Battle to War
- The Journalistic Construction of ‘Emergenza Lampedusa’: The ‘Arab Spring’ and the ‘Landings’ Issue in Media Representations of Migration
- The Italian Media and the Political Upheavals of 2011 in the Mediterranean Region
- Stepping Back to 2008–2010: The Removal of Arrivals by Sea
- The Media as an Arena of the Representation and Social Construction of the Migratory Phenomenon
- Some Notes on Research Methods and Processes
- Representative Patterns of the ‘Arrival Issue’ in the News Media: The Journalistic Construction of an ‘Iconic’ Image
- From Language to Representation: The Construction of the Migrant as a Threat
- Continuing with Language: Lampedusa and the Definition of Social Alarm
- The Definition of Migration as a ‘Social Problem’ on Television: Argumentation, Framing and a ‘TV Politics of Numbers’
- The Image of Italy and Immigrants to Italy in the Media: A Destination or Place of Damnation?
- The Language of the Media
- People and people
- Human Beings and Rights?
- Media and Migration: Some Linguistic Reflections
- Framing Migration: News Images and (Meta-)Communicative Messages
- The Frame and the Single Event: The Case of ‘the Clash of via Sarpi’
- Moving Away from the Single Event: Visual Framing Over Time
- From a Humanist to a Humanitarian Rhetoric: Hope and Desperation as Framing Devices
- Not Everyone is Desperate: Stolen Images versus Portrayals
- Two Exemplary Cases
- Visibility as a More General Framing of Immigration in the Media
- The Silence of Migrants: The Underrepresentation of Migrant Voices in the Italian Mainstream Media
- Training Journalists on Immigration: Experiences and Reflections
- Information and Awareness Experiences: A Starting Point
- Obstacles and Opportunities for Intercultural Training in Editorial Offices
- Ethnicity and Organizational Processes in ‘Mixed’ Media: The Case of Yalla Italia
- A Cultural Elite
- ‘Young People’ of Arabic Origin and / or Muslims
- Competing Rationales: Journalistic versus Ethnic
- Amateurs Used as Witnesses of their Daily Life
- Towards Ethnic Journalism
- Top-Down Decision-Making Process
- Part 2: Literature
- Beyond Hybridization: Metaphors and New Visions in ‘Migrant Literature’ in Italian
- Mediation among Paradigms
- Adhesion to Italian Paradigms
- Hybridization and New Coinage
- Processes of Translation and Self-Translation
- Amara Lakhous, Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio and Divorzio all’islamica
- Duška Kovačević, L’orecchino di Zora
- Fatima Ahmed, Aukuí
- Garane Garane, Il latte è buono
- Christiana de Caldas Brito, Qui e là. Racconti
- Mihail Mircea Butcovan, Allunaggio di un immigrato innamorato
- Narrative Strategies, Literary Imaging and Reflections on Identity: Constructing a Narrative Community in Italy
- Narrative Strategies: ‘Consistent’ and ‘Divergent’ Trends
- ‘Imaging’ Italy in Literature: Between Demystification and Constructing Identity
- ‘Skin Memories’: Expressions of Corporeality in Recent Trans-national Writing in Italian
- The Decentred Gaze of Postcolonial Literature on Italians Past and Present
- The First Autobiographies of the 1990s
- The Novels of the Mature Phase
- The Latest Phase of Production (2010)
- New Postcolonial Art Forms: Timira as Multi-Genre Object Between Cinema and Literature
- Situating Timira within the Italo-Somali Postcolonial Context
- The Authors: Two ‘Ghost-Writers’?
- Multiple Layers of Narrative Production
- Timira’s Significance in the Cinematic Tradition
- Timira as a New Postcolonial Art Form?
- The Postcolonial Afterlife of Primo Levi
- Migrant Writing as (Self-)Translation: The Transnational Trajectory of Giose Rimanelli
- Multiple Narratives of Migration
- From Autobiography to Self-Translation
- Part 3: Cinema
- Imagined Journeys: Italian Directors and Immigration
- New Directors, New Films
- Italian Filmmakers and Representations of the Other
- Recurring Themes and Topics
- Accented Voices in Contemporary Italian Cinema
- Federico Bondi’s Mar nero: Channelling the Geographic Unconscious
- Appendix: Credits for Mar nero
- Migration Told Through Noir Conventions in La sconosciuta and Gomorra
- La sconosciuta and Noir Tradition: Stella, Mildred and Irena
- Gomorra: The Reality of Horror as Routine
- Nigerian Migrants, Nollywood Videos and the Emergence of an ‘Anti-Humanitarian’ Representation of Migration in Italian Cinema
- Akpegi Boyz: Nollywood Abroad, Exploitation Films and the ‘Aesthetics of Outrage’
- Torino Boys: Pop Culture, Parody and the Making of an Italian Afrocentric Film about Migration
- Sotto il Sole Nero: Mimesis, duplicity and the impossible truth of the Migrant’s Experience
- Conclusion: Anti-Humanitarian Representations and the Deconstruction of the Italian Hegemonic Gaze on Migration
- Witnessing History, Recounting Suffering: The Documentary Project of Andrea Segre
- Roaming to Rome: Archiving and Filming Migrant Voices in Italy
- The Archive of Migrant Memories
- Narrated Memory and Audiovisual Memory
- Notes on Contributors
- Index of Names
- Series index
← viii | ix →Illustrations
Marco Binotto, ‘Invaders, Aliens and Criminals: Metaphors and Spaces in the Media Definition of Migration and Security Policies’← xi | x →
Marco Bruno, ‘The Journalistic Construction of “Emergenza Lampedusa”: The “Arab Spring” and the “Landings” Issue in Media Representations of Migration’
Andrea Pogliano, ‘Framing Migration: News Images and (Meta-)Communicative Messages’← x | xi →
Anna Meli, ‘Training Journalists on Immigration: Experiences and Reflections’
Eugénie Saitta, ‘Ethnicity and Organizational Processes in “Mixed” Media: The Case of Yalla Italia’
Alessandro Triulzi, ‘Roaming to Rome: Archiving and Filming Migrant Voices in Italy’
Figure 2:Still from Benvenuti in Italia (2012) showing Dadir (on the right), former player of the Somali national football team and now a refugee in Italy, whilst talking to his fellow players before a match in Rome
Anybody walking through the centre of an Italian city today can immediately perceive the vast social impact of recent immigration. By January 2014, nearly eight per cent of the country’s population was of foreign origin: a percentage which the traditionally higher birth-rate of immigrant families will doubtless boost even further. These recent changes constitute a demographic revolution of a scale and speed which the Italian peninsula ← 1 | 2 →has never before experienced.1 The primary concern of this volume, however, is not so much ‘what’ happened, but rather ‘how’ the phenomenon has been described in words and images. This is no mere academic exercise. It would be naive to undervalue the enormous importance, both political and cultural, attached to the way the Italian media has attempted to describe and make sense of recent immigration. The ever-recurrent image of overcrowded boats approaching the Sicilian coastline – to mention but the most obvious example – has had a clear impact on the perception of the scale of the issue as formed by millions of Italians, regardless of the fact that a much bigger proportion of immigrants come to Italy by train and coach through the north-eastern borders. Similarly, the way literature and cinema have tackled immigration goes well beyond a simple, thematic treatment. Never before has Italian culture faced the challenge of welcoming and allowing different cultures to grow and flourish on its own soil, in its own language, through its own publishing and film industries. It is a history of sudden cultural innovation. Italian literature and Italian cinema are undergoing developments whose outcomes are difficult to predict but which will certainly bear the mark of the cultural heritage of millions of immigrants coming from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The twenty-two chapters of this book condense the considerations, exchanges and mutual stimuli which accompanied a three-year multidisciplinary project generously funded by the British-based Leverhulme Trust. The main core of researchers was based in that country but every effort was made to open up to a wider horizon. We especially benefitted from the expertise of specialists in the USA, France, Northern Africa and, of course, Italy. Equally important was the attempt to take into account the views and experiences of those who have a more direct involvement in representing migration. Workshops with journalists, writers and filmmakers ← 2 | 3 →were a natural choice. Beyond that, we tried to involve individuals and associations which are committed to making real changes in the industries behind Italian media, literature and cinema. These vary from monitoring groups such as Carta di Roma and ANSI (Associazione Nazionale Stampa Interculturale), to pro-active NGOs such as COSPE (Cooperazione per lo sviluppo dei paesi emergenti) and the Archivio Memorie Migranti, one of whose aims is to facilitate the participation of first- and second-generation immigrants as journalists, editors, writers and filmmakers.
The end result, we hope, is a book which provides both a useful aid to understanding the complexities of Italy’s multicultural dimensions and at the same time offers material to promote a stimulating discussion on what remains to be done or to be expected. This takes us to the satirical vignette by Francesco Tullio Altan displayed at the beginning of this chapter. In many ways, its content touches upon a crucial matter. It is a representation, visual and verbal, of a dialogue between an Italian and a foreign immigrant. The exchange takes place around a promise of equality, but the language used by the Italian is a language of power. Even worse is its linguistic register: the use of the informal ‘tu’ lowers the other to the level of a child. Hence the reaction. The voice of the immigrant asks to be heard and simultaneously asserts his right to respect. To a great extent, this vignette is an icon of the most contentious aspect of the representation of immigration. Whether in papers and television, cinema or literature, the phenomenon – certainly in its initial phase – has been described by Italians, for Italians. The patronizing tone used by the Italian in the vignette might not have been the intention of many commentators but there is no doubt that, from the start, the challenge has been to move beyond an Italo-centric vision.
At this point, the history of how this happened (or did not happen) differs from case to case. Journalism, on television in particular, is a notoriously difficult industry to enter for any Italian, however qualified, so the difficulties faced by immigrants of first or even second generation can only be imagined. The political agenda of a large part of the Italian media has not helped either. Immigration has too often been treated as a political issue and therefore attacked or defended rather than explored ← 3 | 4 →and described. The case of cinema is even worse. The great financial risks involved in a film production make this industry a very conservative one. At the same time, a considerable number of films were devoted to the subject, mostly written and directed by Italians. To trace their evolution is in itself an interesting study of how Italians looked at themselves through the mirror reflection of immigration. As for literature, narrative in particular has fared much better. From the start, Italy’s publishing industry showed an interest in hosting the voices of this new phenomenon and a number of publications – although initially for the main part co-written with the help of Italian journalists – were already gaining notoriety in the early 1990s. As a result, today we can speak of a substantial body of literature reflecting a wide range of different cultures whose authors command an important presence in the contemporary field, thus enriching the national literary tradition and adding an increasingly fertile intercultural dimension to Italian letters.
The following paragraphs will present and briefly discuss the individual contributions of each of the three sections of this book. Only one premise is necessary. The division into three separate blocks is mainly instrumental, to facilitate the consultation of those who might be interested in only one particular medium. One of the great changes and opportunities offered by the digital revolution of recent years has been the erosion of the traditional borders between written and visual genres. We live in a hyper-textual environment which in future years will probably question and reformulate the way we conceive and experience journalistic, literary and cinematic texts. This will also provide opportunities for new voices to find their own original forms of communication. For the time being, however, a neat division into the three thematic areas covered by the Destination Italy project still seemed to us to be the most practical approach for the organization of this volume.
Although the Italian media began to be interested in foreign migrants during the second half of the 1970s, ‘when they first acknowledge the presence of colfs and ‘foreign workers’,2 migration became to some extent newsworthy only ten years later, when the first xenophobic and racist attacks against migrants were reported in the news.3
In the 1980s, however, comments and analysis were still unsystematic. Migration towards Italy was still not seen as a major issue (and the notion of a multicultural society was not thus perceived as neither a possibility nor a danger), and journalists and columnists were much more interested in underlining the episodic nature of intolerance and violence shown by (Italian) aggressors rather than disclosing the lives – and the stories – of (non-Italian) victims. Approaching and understanding migration as an enduring process (in order to forecast possible social scenarios or to prevent racist phenomena) was not a priority for either the media or the majority of political parties and institutions.
A new awareness arises at the end of the decade. With the assassination of Jerry Masslo in August 1989 in Villa Literno, and the subsequent discussion around the Legge 39/90 (the so-called ‘Legge Martelli’), migration (and its social implications) and migrants burst into media headlines, public view, and the political arena. And this has been drummed up also in academia, where the media representation of migrants became a new interdisciplinary subject. In 1990 sociologist Mahmoud Mansoubi, an Iranian refugee and research fellow at the University of Pisa and the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, released an independent survey pinpointing that almost ← 5 | 6 →70 per cent of all news related to immigration in Italy published between 1978 and 1987 had been included in cronaca nera sections, where migrants were habitually depicted as underprivileged and deviant sub-proletarians.4
Mansoubi’s pioneering research was followed by a wider investigation commissioned by RAI TV, in which a team led by sociologist Carlo Marletti focused on the representation of migrants in television news programmes.5 According to this survey, journalistic routines were not only failing to communicate accurate and balanced information, but on the contrary were producing and imposing a sort of fissazione simbolica of racial prejudice and ethnic stereotypes that would be difficult to eventually challenge and eradicate.6
Far from being contradicted, Marletti’s remarks were confirmed by new strands of investigation which emerged during the nineties. According to many researchers, the majority of the mass media actually seemed to provide a biased representation of migrants which was: a) hinged on stereotypical traits; b) detached from reality; and c) unable to sense social changes. And the more researchers collected and explored data, the stronger this perception became. As stated in 1995 by Grossi, Belluati and Viglongo, in the Italian media:
gli immigrati sono presenti soprattutto in notizie di cronaca nera e di cronaca bianca oppure in articoli focalizzati sulle polemiche politiche (tra i partiti) o sulle risposte istituzionali (in termini di accoglienza o repressione); mentre solo in pochi casi si parla direttamente della loro identità culturale, etnica o religiosa o anche delle loro semplici manifestazioni pubbliche, siano esse sociali o politiche.7
← 6 | 7 →Between the 1990s and the early 2000s, despite of the increased presence of migrants in Italian society, the media approach to migration is still mainly ‘alarmist, emergential, stereotypical, superficial’,8 and – according to a wide-ranging survey by CENSIS – most of the Italian media is affected by a difetto comunicativo when dealing with the topic, due to excessive ‘drammatizzazione e spettacolarizzazione’ of facts and events, linguistic inaccuracy (for instance, through approximate and highly connotative labels), and absence of migrants’ own voices and point of views.9
In 2004, a research produced within the project Etnequal Social Communication revealed similar trends: media coverage was still (too) biased and partial, and – especially at a local level – migrants were mainly presented in crime news, and started to be perceived as a major threat to public order. The new rhetoric of ‘sbarchi’ and ‘emergenze’ became persistent, as well as the juxtaposition between ‘us’ (the standard white middle-class readership) and ‘them’ (the undistinguished mass of dangerous newcomers).10 The media seemed to uncritically endorse, rather than challenge, the political agenda set by the right-wing government, in particular after the approval of the Legge 189/2002 (the so-called ‘Legge Bossi-Fini’), which established the crime of illegal migration, thus fostering the semantic chain connecting ‘immigrato’, ‘clandestino’ and ‘illegale’, and reinforcing the powerful frames of ‘security’, ‘emergency’ and ‘illegality’.
As underlined by Marcello Maneri, these frames and tendencies have been reprised and echoed not only by those media ‘a vocazione populista’, but also by broadsheet newspapers and state televisions which, with a few ← 7 | 8 →exceptions, ‘ritengono di aumentare la vendibilità della notizia enfatizzando la devianza e la minaccia e usando il frame dell’emergenza’. In Italy, Maneri maintains, this has occurred because mainstream media mainly rely on official sources (police, press agencies, decision-making institutions), facilely incorporate and embed the discourse of power (the ‘elite discourse’ into which Teun van Dijk gave a first insight the early 1990s),11 manipulate – or misread – statistics, and pass off as objective and unquestionable expertise the subjective ‘expert-on-duty’ point of view. As a consequence, immigration is often the topic of journalists covering only crime and legal affairs.12
If we looked only at the conclusions of most of the investigations into the representation of migrants and asylum seekers carried out over the last ten years (even the most recent ones),13 we would no doubt end up sharing the concerns of the former spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Laura Boldrini, when she claims that:
questa riluttanza della stampa di uscire dagli stereotipi e di fare un salto di qualità nella narrazione dell’immigrazione uscendo dallo schema sbarchi-invasione-paura non ha aiutato gli italiani a comprendere quanto stava avvenendo. Né ad inquadrare la presenza dei migranti in un contesto di evoluzione sociale legato alla contemporaneità.14
Nevertheless, we must note that there have always been some qualified (and successful) exceptions, i.e. media sources that have tried to portray migration and migrants from a different perspective. It is worth mentioning – just to name a few – newspaper supplements such as Metropoli (La Repubblica, 2006–9), of which 300,000 copies were printed and distributed nationally, weekly inserts such as Gazzetta Mondo (Gazzetta del Sud); satellite TV channel RAIMed (2001–12), broadcasting in Italian and Arabic; TV weekly news-magazines such as Nonsolonero (Rai 2), broadcast from 1989 to 1994, and hosted by the Capoverdean journalist Maria De Lourdes Jesus; Un mondo a colori/Crash (Rai Educational, 1998 onwards); Shukran – Settimanale sull’immigrazione (RAI 3, 1999–2011); and radio programmes such as Permesso di soggiorno – Dialogo sul mondo dell’immigrazione (Rai 1, from December 1995).15
We must also acknowledge that in the last few years much of the Italian media has ‘made a few steps forward’, as Grazia Naletto has pointed out.16 The portrayal of migrants is now to some extent more varied, and not infrequently shows the positive impact they have (had) on Italian economy and society, giving their initiatives more visibility and recognition.
This may be the result of a less prejudicial observation of reality, and of a better understanding of migration as a complex, multifaceted, and evolving process. But it may also be the consequence of a stronger pressure put on newsrooms and editorial boards by the Consiglio Nazionale dei Giornalisti, which on 12 June 2008 signed and circulated the deontological charter called ‘Carta di Roma’,17 and by institutions and NGOs that, since then, have launched awareness campaigns and monitored – more or less systematically – the application of the charter in order to detect violations of its rules or to denounce misuses. This is the case of ‘Associazione Carta di ← 9 | 10 →Roma’ (www.cartadiroma.com), COSPE (www.mmc2000.net), ‘Giornalisti contro il razzismo’ (www.giornalismi.info), ‘Lunaria – Cronache di ordinario razzismo’ (www.cronachediordinariorazzismo.org) and, last but not least, ‘Occhioaimedia’ (www.occhioaimedia.org), a new dynamic watchdog lead by a team of ‘second-generation’ volunteers.
Although accountability in regard to news about migrants and migration is not yet considered a fundamental premise – as was recommended almost fifteen years ago by the World Conference against Racism in 2001 in South Africa18 – it is at least now perceived as a relevant issue by more and more journalists and newsrooms, and some action has also been taken by the FNSI (Federazione Nazionale della Stampa), which in 2011 successfully protested against the decision of the Ministero dell’interno to deny reporters access to CIE (Centri di Identificazione ed Espulsione) and CARA (Centri di Accoglienza per Richiedenti Asilo).
Furthermore, as well as mainstream media, new and dedicated press agencies (like Migra and Redattoresociale), monitoring units (such as the Osservatorio di Pavia, or Articolo 3), newsletters (www.stranierinitalia.it, www.meltingpot.org), internet data-banks (such as www.cestim.it), paper and online magazines (for instance, ‘Mixa – Gli italiani nuovi’, www.mixamag.it, and the renowned weekly publication ‘Corriere immigrazione’, www.corriereimmigrazione.it), and social networks have collected investigations, analysis, comments, and data for several years now, with the aim of spreading – to quote the editor of ‘Corriere immigrazione’ (now ‘Corriere delle migrazioni’) Stefania Ragusa – ‘una maggiore e più specifica attenzione giornalistica’ to migration throughout the media.19
Even more noticeable from this point of view is the so-called ‘multicultural media’ (media multiculturali),20 whose first experiments – like ‘Xabar’, ← 10 | 11 →founded by Pape Diaw in Florence in 1995, sponsored by the Forum toscano migranti and Tele Italia Prato, and supported by the Florentine Senegalese community – date back to the mid-1990s, but which have flourished in the new millennium,21 as was documented as early as 2007.22 Now grouped within the ‘Piattaforma dei media multiculturali in Italia’23 – which is not only a manifesto, but also a charter to be discussed with local councils and authorities in order to negotiate the allocation of resources, to boost relations with public administrations, and to promote collaboration with mainstream media – these media multiculturali can also count on the support of the ANSI, the Associazione Nazionale Stampa Interculturale. Founded in 2010 and now counting more than 500 members (www.associazioneansi.org), the ANSI is steadily growing and including more and more new, innovative experiences, such as Asterisco Radio, the first web radio ‘multiculturale’ (www.asteriscoradio.com) and ALMAblog, created in 2011 by the collective of writers, journalists, and bloggers ‘di varie origini’ Alza La Mano Adesso (collettivoalma.wordpress.com)
The contributions included in this volume go some way towards charting the evolution and reflecting the current debates on ‘media and migration’ in Italy. The representation of migrants and of the phenomena of migration in mainstream media (and newspapers in particular) is the topic of the chapters by Marco Binotto, Marco Bruno and Mahmoud Zidan. In his ‘Invaders, Aliens and Criminals: Metaphors and Spaces in the Media Definition of Migration and Security Policies’, Marco Binotto claims that the image of the ‘foreigner’ has generally incorporated – in Italian media narratives – three figures of the enemy: the invader, the alien and the criminal. Each figure has been constructed around specific set of metaphors which define different anthropological spaces and borders. To ← 11 | 12 →each border has been associated a collective fear and a series of control procedures (by politics) and information production processes (by the media) aiming at a common goal: to identify the foreign-as-enemy and to exorcize all alien elements.
- XII, 467
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2015 (March)
- Emmigration Immigration Nostra Mare
- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2015. XI, 467 pp., 29 fig.