Photo of Alessia Mangiavillano
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Personal profile

PhD Project

My research aims to investigate comics as a creative, versatile form of communication that conveys the stories and voices of refugees and migrants. I aim to study the process and procedures that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) go through when designing and producing comics built on refugee and migrant firsthand testimonies. Further, I will investigate the ethics of storytelling and the power relationship between NGOs, advocacy organisations, and individual storytellers. 

There have always been, since the growing popularity of the comics art in the 1930s, comic books that dealt with historical events in various ways. Although scholarship tends to focus on the analysis of issues of historical representation, this study explores how the traditional comic book and its 2.0 version afford specific ways to represent one of the most challenging issues of our current era: the crossing of borders. Media outlets fail to provide a balanced migration coverage, either ignoring migration or excessively portraying it as a threat to economy, culture, or security. Migrant voices are seldom included and often neglected in these narratives.

I argue that comics are a comfortable medium where migrant voices find a very much needed narrative space. Migration comics offer a more nuanced understanding of migration issues whilst sheding a new light on visual narratives that foster empathy and engagement through personal storytelling. Comics drawing on firsthand testimonies are political, sociological, and contribute to a scholarship that puts untold stories in the hands of people. 

My thesis is an attempt move towards an understanding of comics as cultural work, informed by an understanding of comics through their creators and an approach that allows comics practice to inform comics theory. Journalism, migration research, human geography, narrative studies, media scholarship, and documentary studies are just a few of the disciplines that shape "Migration comics". Both comics about human rights and empirical research about comics are growing in number, but rarely is one informed by the other. One of the aims of the research is to provide a connection between these fields. 

Education/Academic qualification

Human Rights & International Politics, MSc, University of Glasgow

14 Sep 20142 Dec 2015

Award Date: 2 Dec 2015

Pedagogy of Italian as Foreign and Second Language, Postgraduate Diploma, Università per Stranieri di Perugia

1 Sep 200830 Jun 2009

Award Date: 30 Jun 2009

Italian & Intercultural Studies, MA, Università per Stranieri di Perugia

1 Oct 200516 Apr 2008

Award Date: 16 Apr 2009

Arts and Humanities (Honours), Degree, Università per Stranieri di Perugia

1 Oct 20025 Dec 2005

Award Date: 5 Dec 2005

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