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Antinucci, G. (2020). The uncanny encounter or the encounter with the uncanny other. The work of identity and its transformations in Fuocoammare: From being lost at sea to coming into being. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(2):388-401.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(2):388-401

Film Essay

The uncanny encounter or the encounter with the uncanny other. The work of identity and its transformations in Fuocoammare: From being lost at sea to coming into being

Giuseppina Antinucci

In a highly charged scene in Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary Fuocoammare, a group of African migrants disembark and are met by the Italian coastguard, in an encounter marked with fear, foreboding and expectant anticipation. The refugees are inspected by officers who, encapsulated in antiseptic uniforms and masks, screen them. Their faces are strained by alienation and fear. Witnessing the encounter permits the viewer to imagine and represent the anxieties elicited when strangers come into close proximity. Besides the interpersonal level, rendered cinematically by the documentary, a psychoanalytic framework offers the possibility to think about the subjective and intrapsychic resonance of the “uncanny effect,” with the attendant derealization and depersonalization that characterize a disturbance of the sense of identity. Following Rosi’s suggestion to regard Lampedusa as a metaphor, I will locate in the island my exploration of the “work of identity” carried out by subjects and groups from very diverse cultural contexts, when they come into contact with one another. I will employ De M’Uzan’s theory of the “spectrum of identity” as a useful heuristic tool to access a dynamic and transformational psychic field to capture identities in the making, in a close reading of the chanting scene which Rosi defines as epic.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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