Examining Italian postcolonial narratives through the lens of intermediality

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This doctoral thesis sets out to investigate how different media interact in Italian postcolonial narratives by employing the theoretical framework of intermediality. It explores how intermedial configurations create more inclusive narratives of the postcolonial identities portrayed in novels, photography series and documentaries. This central question produces two lines of enquiry; firstly, how intermediality helps to uncover layers of the Italian imperial enterprise in East Africa and its consequences on the present; and secondly, how intermediality contributes both to the field of postcolonial studies and to the understanding of the current migration experience.

The thesis begins with an exploration of the theoretical intersections of intermediality and postcolonial studies, while introducing Walter Benjamin’s philosophical apparatus as a means to elucidate the conceptual overlapping between the two disciplines. A brief analysis of Cover boy. L’ultima rivoluzione (2006) showcases how intermedial investigation will be conducted in the following sections.

The thesis is structured according to the three major theoretical paradigms that constitute intermediality studies which are: 1) post-structuralist philosophies used to explore the concept of in-betweenness; 2) trans-semiotic theories scrutinising media borders; 3) connections between the real and the intermedial. Each paradigm gathers a number of theoretical strands that are employed in the respective examinations conducted in the five chapters of the thesis.

Building on a body of post-structuralist thought, Chapter One and Two examine how different intermedial configurations create in-betweenness in both novels Adua (2015) and Timira. Romanzo Meticcio (2012). Chapter Three scrutinises how media converge to generate Roaming (2006) and Roma negata. Percorsi postcoloniali nella città (2014) through an additional theoretical approach that borrows from the post-structuralist paradigm. Chapter Four and Chapter Five employ two different articulations of the trans-semiotic paradigm which are used in the respective examinations of the documentaries Asmarina (2015) and Pagine nascoste (2017). In the Conclusion, this study employs the third paradigm to investigate Grooving Lampedusa (2012) and reflects upon how intermedial practices encourage viewers to actively participate in the unfolding of postcolonial narratives that connect Italy’s colonial enterprise in Eastern Africa with the current migration experience in Italy.
Date of Award29 Nov 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorDerek Egerton Duncan (Supervisor) & Emma Frances Bond (Supervisor)


  • Postcolonial studies
  • Intermediality studies
  • Visual studies
  • Postcolonial Italy
  • Walter Benjamin

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 3 September 2028

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