Public Mobility Humanities - 4 Dec 2023

The seminar Chinese Memories. Comics and Maps of a Migratory Journey to the West was organised by MoHu and the Museum of Geography to involve the students of our MA in Mobility Studies, but also extra-academic publics, in a creative dissemination project about mobilities. The seminar is co-organised with the PRIN PNRR project WALCWalking Landscapes of Urban Cultures as part of the NaMUC – Narrative Mobilities of Urban Cultures seminar series curated by Giada Peterle.

The seminar, in fact, was held to launch the graphic novel “Memories. Notes and Maps of a Journey to the West” co-authored by Ciaj Rocchi, Matteo Demonte and Daniele Brigadoi Cologna (Cleup, 2023). Here, the artists and authors retrace the mobility of people, goods and ideas from the West to early twentieth-century Europe through the combination of comics, maps and archival research. 

Through their previous graphic novels, “Primavere  e autunni” and “Chinamen” (BeccoGiallo 2015 and 2017), Rocchi and Demonte had already contributed to the re-writing of the history of Chinese migration to Northern Italy and Milan: with their new work, “Memories”, they expand the spatio-temporal frame of their creative and historical research, in collaboration with sinologist Brigadoi Cologna. 

As Giada Peterle and Tania Rossetto write in their afterword, this graphic novel is one of the unexpected surprises emerging from the “Variations on Mobility” programme. “Variations on Mobility” was the joint edition of Creative Commissions 2019/2020 hosted by the MoHu and the Royal Holloway Centre for the GeoHumanities. The idea at the basis of the Creative Commissions scheme was that collaboration between academic researchers and artists within the same commission is particularly apt to move knowledge outside the academy through the adoption of creative forms of expression. “Memories” represents an extended version of the initial project realised by the team composed of Brigadoi Cologna, Rocchi and Demonte, as part of the path of their creative work initiated during the Creative Commissions.

The Dissgea department and MoHu Centre supported this path and are now happy to launch the result of such art-research collaboration inspired by the mobility humanities frame.

The seminar, thus, brought together not only the mobility of goods, people, and objects, economic history and history of migratory flows, but also a broader reflection on the role of artists and the use of creative languages such as comics in mobility research.

We enjoyed having with us Ciaj Rocchi and Matteo Demonte and deeply appreciated the ways in which they put mobility at the centre of a productive dialogue between creative work, academic knowledge and public engagement!