Among Drowned Lives: Digital Archives and Migrant Memories in the Age of Transmediality

Alice Cati, Maria Francesca Piredda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the last few years, the Sicilian Channel is the scene of the most meaningful tragedy of the 21st Century: thousands of migrants - pushed by the opportunity of a better life - try to cross the Mediterranean Sea. How to collect their stories along their routes of despair and hope in Europe? Recently some digital archives have been designed to gather and preserve what remains of their experiences in order to communicate and exhibit the tangible heritage (images, personal notes, shipwrecks relics) and intangible heritage (voices, values, traditions, languages, oral history) of migrant humanity. As we know, a proper testimonial apparatus - based on oral stories, diaries, videotestimonies, and so on - has been developed worldwide. Such a cultural device has played an important role in postcolonial history and was crucial to recognize marginalized or minority voices. Moreover, this would mean that different perspectives on the historical facts would be possible, signaling a further democratization through plurality. Our presentation aims to focus on the cultural phenomenon of the Internet projects based on oral history, language preservation and digital storytelling that have emerged in tandem with social movements and the affirmation of pluralistic cultural identities. The genre of recorded digital narratives mediated by institutions becomes a ‘cultural democratic practice’ for the benefit of people who have been excluded from the channels of economic and political access on the basis of race, ethnicity, income and gender. More specifically, we would like to consider how such digital archives enable migrant people to exercise their own agency in constructing a ‘self-image’. By analyzing in depth some case studies, the presentation aims at exploring the ways in which a bottom-up archive of migrant identities can be created.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-637
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Autobiografia
  • Autobiography
  • Cinema italiano
  • Italian Cinema
  • Migration
  • Migrazioni
  • digital storytelling


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