Story of a Civic Sentinel

Story of a Civic Sentinel

A graphic novel intended to communicate the impacts of extractive industries on people and on our planet, but it is also a mean to stimulate engagement and action, suggesting that everyone can respond proactively by performing civic environmental monitoring

Ispra | Started on 01/06/2020 – Concluded on 31/08/2023

The research project Sensing for Justice (in short, SensJus) embraces ‘research-creation’, which refers to research experiences and ways of knowing that include a creative process and an experimental aesthetic component as an integral part of a scientific study. We implement this practice through collaboration with artists and experts. SensJus sees research-creation as modes of care for and empathy toward our research topic. The project ‘Story of a civic sentinel’ stems from this approach. It is a graphic novel produced by SensJus and informed by fieldwork data (research performed in the Agri and Basento Valleys of Basilicata), that tells the achievements and challenges encountered by civic sentinels facing extractivism in the Global South (including the multiple ‘Souths’ of the North, as the Basilicata region). The story is fictional but communicate a truth, that is, the impacts of extractive industries on people and on our climate. The novel serves both as a communication tool for reaching broader publics and as a tool to elicit reactions from research participants that will relate to the story.

We refined this method to reach also ‘sensitive’ publics such as (climate) migrants’ communities, that we regard as promising sentinels. We made digital and hard copies of the novel available in various languages (so far, English, Italian, Spanish and French) and as a creative commons resource. This can be a useful tool for various stakeholders from civil society (NGOs, activists, young students, citizen science communities) that can co-create with us making the novel evolve in multiple directions. We curated exhibitions of the process that lead to the graphic novel and disseminated it during festival and public events such as the JRC Art&Science Week (2022, Ispra, Italy) and the KlimatFest (2022 and 2023, Milan).

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Editor’s Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.