In this web-doc, the graphic novel is used to orient the reader within the territorial and narrative context presented, starting with my “personal geographies” and those of the subjects represented. Initially, I am one of the main characters in the graphic novel. However, as the story unfolds, my role evolves and becomes functional in leading the reader to discover the places and the stories I met in Ventimiglia. In this transition, my character, though never disappearing, deliberately assumes a secondary position in the representation.
The story is structured through three macro moments:
- 1. the period that precedes my decision to write a research project on the EU asylum system (2016);
- 2. my transfer to the University of Amsterdam and the encounter with my colleague Cecilia Vergnano (April 2018);
- 3. the proper fieldwork in Ventimiglia (September- December 2018).
I didn’t want to make a comic about myself, but the decision to build a narrative that emphasises some of the moments and central passages of any (empirical) research, meant that my inclusion became meaningful.
In particular, I wanted to underline the personal reasons underpinning the choice of the research topic; the importance of proper funding in pursuing a research project; the relational aspect inherent to any knowledge gaining process, which means that no research can ever be called “personal” in its entirety. Thus, the use of comics also allowed me to give the “right place” to some people who have been central to the development of the PASS project: first of all, Maurizio Memoli (University of Cagliari), who urged me to insist in staying in Academia when I thought I had no chances of continuing; Darshan Vigneswaran (University of Amsterdam), who immediately accepted my proposal, and then my “companions of adventure”; Francesca Mazzuzi and Cornelia Isabelle Toelgyes, from the Campaign LasciateCIEntrare, with which I started my effort on the ground before the granting of ad hoc funding.
Finally, my Diary could not miss Cecilia Vergnano, Lilgoulou Keita – who still worries about me – and Livio Amigoni who does not appear under his own name, but with all his grit and positive spirit among the crowd of the 20K Collective Assembly in the last scene of the novel.
All the protagonists of the stories told, when my character takes a step back, are real – names aside – as are the places and dynamics presented.
The “Diary from Ventimiglia” is an integral part of the wider project. The graphic novel was chosen because it is a useful tool, in this context, for questioning the “pervading uniqueness” (Giubilaro, 2016, p. 61) of some representations on “migration crisis” in the EU. Drawings are thus considered a sort of “counter-map”, as opposed to the anonymous, classifying, criminalising discourses which tend to portray the stories of migrants on EU territory and beyond.
Giubilaro, C. (2016). Corpi, spazi, movimenti. Per una geografia critica della dislocazione. Milano:Unicopli.