Reframing European Diasporas in Contemporary France

'Second Generation' Subjectivity and the Road 'Home' in Portugal (2011) and La Commedia des ratés (2011)

in Volume 6 (2013): Issue 2 (Dec 2013)
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This article examines two graphic novels published in 2011, Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa and La Commedia des ratés [Holy Smoke] by Olivier Berlion, within the thematic and technical context of the French 'return' road movie, an increasingly prevalent category. Recent debates in political, cultural and academic spheres have focused on competing conceptions of Frenchness – traditional republicanism and multiculturalism – as well as the place of the 'second- or third-generation' descendants of immigrants. This article argues that Portugal and La Commedia des ratés, as quasi-autobiographic 'return' to origins narratives, represent compelling insight into the subjectivity of second-generation diasporic populations in France. I will also examine how these works employ the 'ninth art' to create fresh twists on the 'return' story. Finally, I will explore the graphic and narrative depictions of travel in each work, adapting Teresa Bridgeman's theory of 'world building' and 'world-switching' in bande dessinée. I argue that Portugal offers a compelling approach, re-creating on the page the effect of the cinematic 'traveling montage'.

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