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COMMONERS VOICES

Digital storytelling, self-expression and migrants – a Ph.D. research work

My research focus on the digital comic-based storytelling investigation as a means to support and facilitate young migrants and teenagers in expressing themselves and in elaborating master narratives in counterstories. Master narratives are stories that morally degrade a minority group; counterstories are narratives that replace master narratives with one that fosters respect. In particular, the digital narratives elaboration is focused on discriminant situations against migrants. Indeed, dominant group, namely the locals, view migrants as a threat or as an economic burden. In my work, I focus on the concept of counterstories constructed using a digital tool, such as Communics, that supports the storytelling production through the visual language of comics. Specifically, my two assumptions are that digital comics, pre-defined text and incipits can support and facilitate migrants and teenagers in their self-expression and in elaborating counterstories. 
 
Therefore, the research question addressed is the following:
 
How does a digital tool can support young migrants and teenagers producing storytelling for self-expression and for elaborating counterstories?
 
During the last year, I focused on the migrants’ community. In focus groups with NGO professionals and young migrants, a set of graphical (backgrounds, objects and characters) and textual material (both predefined and free) was constructed in order to elaborate elements - to be provided in the digital tool - needed to build the comics. Secondly, the digital narrations produced by young migrants were analysed to explore the self-expression process and the elaboration of counterstories. Moreover, the experience itself was investigated through in semi-structured interviews. This first study provides a first empirical case study in which comic-based digital storytelling was investigated as a medium for self-expression and for elaboration of digital narratives in form of counterstories within migrants’ community.
Thirdly, I plan a longer intervention, starting from October 2018, in four high schools among students and their teachers to elaborate digital narratives, related to discriminant situations against migrants, for self-expression and for counterstories. With this study, I aim at investigating the digital storytelling elaboration, assuming that comics, pre-defined text and incipits can facilitate this process in the context of teenagers. 
 
My background is in Philosophy (Philosophy Bachelor and Science of Philosophy Master at the University of Milan), but I have always been interested in the macro area of Smart Cities. Therefore, I decided to attend the Post-Master in Smart Community Design and Management at the University of Trento. Now, I am a first year-PhD student in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Trento and Fondazione Bruno Kessler.
My interests are in the design of collaborative technology, user studies to support innovation processes in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and evaluation of technologies in social context. Because of these interests, from March to July 2017, I did an internship in Fondazione Bruno Kessler, specifically in the research unit of Intelligent Interfaces and Interaction. During this internship, I was involved in the theoretical and empirical development of a project for the integration and inclusion of migrants, reducing the conflict between this community and locals (see: https://commonfare.net/it/stories/communics-a-project-in-comics-based-digital-storytelling-to-foster-inclusion-and-mutual-understanding-between-migrants-and-italians)

2 Comments

Card io

emme

September 20, 2018 at 15:09

beautiful research project!

Card my life through a lens 110632

CommonADA

September 20, 2018 at 18:26

It is refreshing to see students engaging in social innovation project -- the very same concept of sharing knowledge for societal well-being is at the core of the commonfare principles. I believe that commonfare.net can help you answer your research questions "How does a digital tool can support young migrants and teenagers producing storytelling for self-expression and for elaborating counterstories?". I would recommend you to get in touch with Matteo Moretti who is working on storytelling and has contributed several pieces to the commonfare voices. And of course I would be delighted to know more about your project -- we have migration as the main topic of our class in design experience this year and are planning a retreat on it. Let me knwow how it progresses