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UCL Mellon Programme: Interdisciplinary Seminar 2007-2008

Seminar: 29 January 2008

Professor Derek Duncan, University of Bristol, more ...

Landscapes for Good Women: Migration and the Contextual Dilemma


In Traiettorie di sguardi, Geneviève Makaping adopts a critical and self-reflexive perspective to the work of autobiographical narration. The account of her experience as a migrant to Italy is the ground of an analytical inquiry into contemporary Italy and into the process of how she “became black”, that is became aware of herself as a racially marked subject.

Makaping acknowledges that experience alone does not supply this kind of political leverage even though it forms it substance. Well into the book, she asks: “Con quali modalità è possibile trasportare le esperienze della vita privata in quella pubblica, per farne una scienza, una ricerca?” (“With which modalities is it possible to transfer the experiences of private life to a public one, to make them as a science, an object for research?”). Her solution is to draw on her anthropological training acquired at an Italian university to observe analytically the responses of Italians to her and to other migrants. She recognizes that to observe necessarily implies exercising judgement and selection. She does not simply record events but, deploys an informed critique in which the experience of migration functions to expose the prejudicial contours of Italian society.

This paper examines Makaping’s project in relation to the work of feminist theorists and autobiographers such as bell hooks, Luisa Passerini, and Carolyn Steedman.

This page last modified 26 September, 2012 by UCL Mellon Admin

Book cover: Muamma

Book cover: Unpacking the collection

imag: book cover, Federica  Mazzara

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