Valeria G. Castelli

Visiting Scholar

Valeria G. Castelli’s research project examines contemporary Italian documentary films that deal with migrants’ journeys to Europe and their precarious lives once in Italy. She analyzes the rhetorical strategies adopted by the filmmakers of these documentaries, which aim not only to bring enclaves of injustice and inequality under ethical scrutiny, but also to shift perspectives about contemporary migration, and to create political fissures of resistance and stimulate social awareness. The communicative design of these documentaries is in fact conceived as a means for challenging stereotypical accounts about migrants’ lives, for exposing the discriminatory and exploitative situations that they face in today’s Italy, and for advancing the human rights of migrants. As a Visiting Research Scholar at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, Valeria is focusing especially on recent documentaries that deal with child migration. The challenges faced by migrant children, elucidated in these documentaries, are among the most pressing issues related to today’s migration to Europe. These documentaries shed light on the reasons behind child migration and expose how migration puts children—especially those who are unaccompanied—at risk of smuggling, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation. Valeria analyzes the stylistic, aesthetic, representational, and rhetorical choices made by the filmmakers of these documentaries, whose ultimate goal is to impact current public debates and politics on child migration, while fostering critical thinking and emotional engagement on the part of audiences. Prior to joining the Zolberg Institute, Valeria was a 2017–2018 Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, and a 2016–2017 Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the Core Curriculum of the College of Arts and Science at New York University. She received her PhD in Italian Studies from New York University in 2016 with a dissertation on the rhetoric, ethics, and politics of contemporary Italian documentary film.