Migrant stardom and racial masquerade: Fabrizio Gatti’s multimedia undercover journalism | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2047-7368
  • E-ISSN: 2047-7376



In this article I discuss journalist Fabrizio Gatti’s undercover reporting across a variety of multimedia narratives about undocumented immigration, including news articles, illustrated reportages, literary travelogues and digital documentaries. Over the arc of his career Gatti has moved from an aesthetic of camouflage to one of the sceneggiata, which has allowed him to create a migrant stardom revolving around his racialized aliases, the Bilal character in particular. Camouflage is a strategy of racial passing that emerged in Gatti’s early articles for the Corriere della Sera/The Evening Paper. In these articles the subject goes unnoticed and dissolves into the environment that the journalist intends to explore. When Gatti moved to the weekly l’Espresso/The Express in the mid-2000s, his earlier strategies were replaced by exaggerated stagings of his impersonations, that is, by strategies of racial posing. Among his reportages for l’Espresso, the journalist’s undercover work as the Kurdish Bilal in Lampedusa has become so popular that it has marked the birth of a migrant star, Gatti as Bilal, who parodies celebrity culture while criticizing the process of identity building in Italian media. With his travelogue Bilal, his strategies reached such levels of theatricality that the use of sceneggiata, which Gatti himself employs in the travelogue, to examine it becomes invaluable. In the last part of the article, I analyse Gatti’s documentary Sulla via di Agadez/On the Route to Agadez (2009), available through l’Espresso website, and discuss the way it combines the sceneggiata with the sobriety of documentary journalism.


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