The vulnerable gaze of the migrant: Eye-witnessing and drifting subjectivity in documentary web series

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Cati, Alice
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Film and Screen Media, University College Cork
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In the current media system, we are observing the increasing sedimentation of symbolic forms, discourses and imagery regarding contemporary migrations. With the reuse of videos filmed by migrants, the documentary form represents the best “yielding field” where intercultural modes of representation and visual self-inscriptions can be constantly reinvented. In particular, videos made with nonprofessional devices have drawn viewers’ attention to the capacity of moving images to bear witness to reality “from below” and, in some respects, to reproduce aesthetically the opacity and the contingency of events, even the most tragic ones. This paper examines how such a gaze, when it is embodied by the migrant subject, raises questions about the representation of a first-person experience, an experience which paradoxically constitutes a denial of all identity and subjectivity in a deeper sense. To do this, two interesting experiments recently hosted by the website of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica will be analysed: the web series Com’è profondo il mare and Un unico destino—Tre padri e il naufragio che ha cambiato la nostra storia. These web series not only represent traumatic events, but the images show clashes within the depictions themselves and a collision or negotiation between conflicting points of view.
Migrant subjectivity , First-person shot , Smartphones , Eye-witnessing , Vulnerable representations
Cati, A. (2019) 'The vulnerable gaze of the migrant: Eye-witnessing and drifting subjectivity in documentary web series', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 18, pp. 54-69.