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Narrative Geographies / The comic book as a ‘place of mediation’: encounters between codes and perspectives in Etenesh. L’odissea di una migrante by Paolo Castaldi

The comic book as a ‘place of mediation’: encounters between codes and perspectives in Etenesh. L’odissea di una migrante by Paolo Castaldi

Starting from the graphic novel Etenesh. L’odissea di una migrante [Etenesh. The odyssey of a migrant] by Paolo Castaldi (2011), the present contribution proposes to interpret the comic book as a ‘space of encounter’ between disparate subjectivities and as a ‘place of mediation’ between different cultural and geographical perspectives. The first part of the article aims to situate the analysis of Etenesh within the recent field of ‘comic book geographies’, paying particular attention to the en-counter between comics, postcolonial, and geographical studies in the emerging debate around ‘postcolonial comics’. Furthermore, the graphic novel by Paolo Castaldi is proposed as an example of how comics could profitably enter contemporary ‘Italian postcolonial studies’.

The second part will present the reasons why it is appropriate to embrace ‘interviews’ as method-ological tools in postcolonial geographical research: on the one hand, I respond to the question about who is the interviewer, presenting my own positionality through a short auto-ethnographic account. On the other hand, I see the interview as a privileged means by which to explore the composition process of the story and to analyse the intimate hesitations and feelings through which the author mediates between his and Etenesh’s perspective. The dialogue with the interviewee becomes a means by which the comic book, as a storytelling practice and a finished product, emerges as a ‘place of mediation’ between the perspective of Etenesh, a young woman coming ‘from the European South’; the perspective of the author of the graphic novel, Paolo, who is a white male born and living in Italy; and us, the readers.

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cultural geography, graphic journalism, graphic novel, interview, migration, postcolonial comics

 The comic book as a ‘place of mediation’: encounters between codes and perspectives in Etenesh. L’odissea di una migrante by Paolo Castaldi