- News about immigrants and immigration is pervasive in our society, but an examination of the relationship between immigrants and comics has rarely been considered until now. Routledge Press has published Immigrants and Comics - Graphic Spaces of Remembrance, Transaction, and Mimesis, a volume edited by Nhora Serrano, associate director of digital learning and research at Hamilton.
The publisher describes the book as, “An interdisciplinary, themed anthology that focuses on how comics have played a crucial role in representing, constructing, and reifying the immigrant subject and the immigrant experience in popular global culture of the 20th and 21st centuries.” Serrano, who contributed a chapter and the introduction to the book, said her goal was to be global in scope, from the Jewish American experience to Algerian immigration to X-Men to the Latino experience.
“As an immigrant myself [I am originally from Colombia], this topic is very personal,” Serrano said. “As someone whose work resides primarily in illustration, political illuminations, [and] editorial cartoon, I was fascinated with how immigrants were portrayed throughout time, and at the turn of the century, especially, since many of these cartoonists were immigrants themselves.”
She notes that at the end of the 19th century, as the country was becoming more and more industrialized, cartoons and comics editorialized what it meant for immigrants to be citizens who were often quick to forgo past national identities in order to assimilate and acclimate.
“In fact, in the United States, cartoons and comics had a front-row seat on the influx of immigrants and how immigration rapidly shaped national agendas and policies,” Serrano said. “Cartoons and comics use visual tropes to pull away the veil and lay bare what resides in the shadows of civilization and history, a country’s unconscious psychological state. … They testify not to a homogeneous melting pot, but rather to a multitude of contradictory and complex identities. They address and perform an accurate multiculturalism.”
As part of the "Comics Education in Conversation" series, an interview with Serrano on the Penguin Random House site is available here.