Naming the Unknown, Witnessing the Unseen: Mediterranean Ecocriticism and Modes of Representing Migrant Others


  • Serenella Iovino University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Pasquale Verdicchio University of California San Diego



Mediterranean ecocriticism, migrants, artistic representation


      In continuity with the theoretical explorations of Mediterranean Ecocriticism, this essay deals with modes of representation of "migrant others." Often de-personified and reduced to statistical data, these “invisible” migrants are in fact parts of a larger ecology, where the fates of humans and nonhumans are interlaced, prompting deep ethical questions. Such invisibility is challenged by the many artists, writers, filmmakers, and thinkers that bring the migrant question to the center stage of their work, suggesting that the only response to the dehumanization of migrants is the humanization of nonhumans caught in the same predicaments of borders and violence. The essay includes an analysis of Jason deCaires Taylor's submarine artworks and of the documentary Asmat, "Names," by director Dagmawi Yimer.


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Author Biographies

Serenella Iovino, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ecozon@'s former Creative Writing and Arts Section Editor, Serenella Iovino is Professor of Itaiian and Environmental Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A Research Fellow of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, she has published books, edited volumes, and essays in in the fields of ecocriticism and the environmental humanities. Serenella serves in the editorial boards of several international journals on environmental topics, including ISLE, Green Letters, and PAN: Philosophy Activism Nature. She is series editor of "Under the Sign of Nature" (U of Virginia Press), Cambridge Elements (Environmental Humanities) (Cambridge University Press), among other. Her recent works include Material Ecocriticism (2014, Indiana UP), Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene (2017, Rowman & Littlefield, both co-edited with Serpil Oppermann, Indiana UP, 2014), and Italy and the Environmental Humanities (2018, U of Virginia P, co-ed. with E. Cesaretti and E. Past).  Her monograph Ecocriticism and Italy: Ecology, Resistance, and Liberation (Bloomsbury, 2016) was awarded the MLA Prize for italian Studies and the Book Prize of the American Association for Itaiian Studies. She has guest-edited Ecozon@'s Special Focus Issue on Mediterranean Ecocriticism (4.2, Autumn 2013).  Past president and co-founder of the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment (, Serenella has been a guest lecturer in all major European states and in Extra-European countries. In 2014 she has held the “J. K. Binder Lectureship for Literature” at the University of California, San Diego.


Pasquale Verdicchio, University of California San Diego

Pasquale Verdicchio is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of California San Diego, where he teaches courses in film, literature, and cultural studies. As a translator, he has published works by Vivian Lamarque, Alda Merini, and Pier Paolo Pasolini among others. His poetry, reviews, criticism, and photography have been published in journals and in book form, most recently Looters, Photographers, and Thieves: Aspects of Italian Photographic Culture in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (2011). He is also editor of the volume Ecocritical Approaches to Italian Culture and Literature: The Denatured Wild (2016) and, with Loredana Di Martino, of Encounters with the Real in Contemporary Italian Literature and Cinema (2017).







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