Interview by: Gaia Giuliani
Edited by: Camilla Morello
Abstract by: Irene Fattacciu
Language editing by: Daniela S. Jorge Ayoub
Este podcast faz parte da série de 28 podcasts realizados sobre o caso português e italiano no âmbito do projeto de investigação de 36 meses (2018-2021) (De)Othering: Desconstruindo o Risco e a Alteridade: guiões hegemónicos e contra-narrativas sobre migrantes/refugiados e “Outros internos” nas paisagens mediáticas em Portugal e na Europa, que pretendeu analisar criticamente representações mediáticas de migrantes, refugiados e “outros internos” em Portugal e na Europa, mapeando as suas interconexões com narrativas produzidas no domínio da segurança e no quadro da Guerra ao Terrorismo. O seu foco, uma análise de Portugal à luz de estudos de caso europeus profundamente afetados por ameaças terroristas (Reino Unido e França) e por fluxos migratórios/de refugiados (Itália e Alemanha), pretende investigar a construção de narrativas transnacionais de risco que permeiam a Europa independentemente da sua exposição “diferenciada”.
O projeto foi financiado pelo pelo FEDER – Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional através do COMPETE 2020 – Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI) e por fundos nacionais através da FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Referencia Projeto: POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029997)
----- English Version
This podcast is part of a series of 28 podcasts produced on the Portuguese and the Italian cases as outputs of the research undertaken in the 36 months project (2018-2021) (De)Othering: Deconstructing Risk and Otherness: hegemonic scripts and counter-narratives on migrants/refugees and ‘internal Others’ in Portuguese and European mediascapes that sets out to critically examine media representations on migrants, refugees and ‘internal Others’ in Portugal and across Europe while mapping out their interconnections with particular narratives in the field of security and within the War on Terror. Its focus – an analysis of Portugal in the light of other European cases affected by terrorist threats (United Kingdom and France) and by migrant/refugee flows (Italy and Germany) – aims to explore the construction of transnational narratives of risk pervading Europe regardless of the ‘differential’ exposure to them.
The project was funded by FEDER – European Regional Development Fund through the COMPETE 2020 – Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI), and by Portuguese funds through FCT in the framework of the project 029997 (Reference: POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029997).
Djarah Kan is a writer, feminist and cultural activist from Italy and Ghana. Raised in Castel Volturno, she moved to Naples in 2018. She published short stories in Gli Asini and Jacobin Italia. Kan published Il mio nome in the short story collection Future - il domani narrato dalle voci di oggi (Effequ) in 2019 and her first short story collection Ladri di denti (People) in 2020.
In this episode, she discusses how she approaches writing as a tool of self-assertion in a world where being a Black woman belonging to an ethnic minority means being silenced. Kan has always conceived art as a “weapon of mass destruction” directed against capitalism, as a way to be heard and to feed a plurality of voices.
Concerning the media’s coverage of the migrant refugee crisis, the writer recalls the image of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian migrant child whose lifeless body washed ashore in Bodrum, Turkey in 2015 following the capsizing of the dingy carrying him and his family in migration to Europe. Images of Kurdi’s recovered body became a symbol of the humanitarian crisis generated by the violence of the border regime against migrants and refugees. The tactless exposure of Kurdi’s body struck Kan even years later; migrants’ bodies are treated as second-class bodies unworthy of respect. In crisis, their images are circulated in ways that produce de-humanisation in the media butchery, scrutinized without interest or dignity.
In this context, Kan underlines narratives on migrations that evoke shame and estrangement and effectively hide Europe’s roles in the crisis and subsequent responsibilities. The abuse perpetrated through an objectifying circulation of images that showcase pain and violence further diminishes people’s humanity and leaves little room for political reasoning regarding accountability. Furthermore, this form of communication is not functional, as public opinion does not know what happens on the other side of the Mediterranean, ultimately reinforcing Europeans’ white privilege.
To conclude, Kan reflects on the reasons why the Carta di Roma is constantly disregarded, identifying the fact that children of migrants, second generation citizens and racialized people don’t vote (yet – because they are not recognised as citizens) as a key factor. In an interesting comparison with the United States, Kan unveils the game of mirrors through which Europeans reinforce both their own identity and stereotypes about the other, underlining how the lack of narratives on dignity, agency and liberation about Africa prevents the cultivation of true empathy.