FOCUSING ON INTERCULTURAL ITALY
The spotlight is on Issa. Behind him, you can see a blurry silhouette of a person smiling: his partner Lydia. Both are part of a photo and video documentary made by Mohamed Keita, a 27-year-old photojournalist based in Rome, who aims to interview 50 multicultural families in Italy to provide a panorama of our current society.
BY MOHAMED KEITA
September 13, 2020, 12:00 CET | Updated on October 12, 2020, 11:09 CET
Photo Credits: Mohamed Keita
Interview with Mohamed Keita
Black City Stories: Why did you start researching this topic? Why do you think it is important?
Mohamed Keita: Intercultural families are few [in Italy], but they can teach us many useful things. These families are teaching me a lot because they are also very different. Not because they live in a different world from ours, but because they know many things about diversity. They have succeeded in erasing some barriers of our current society. Thus, this research is like a school for me.
Black City Stories: So far, what have you learned from this research?
Mohamed Keita: When we speak about diversity, there is not only Black or white. There are intercultural families and intercultural children, who are in the middle, not only belonging to the white and not even just Black identity.
And I have realised that many people from different cultures or with mixed identities many times don’t want to choose one identity. These people want to connect with their different identities—and to be seen as human beings.
Black City Stories: What is your personal advice to others on how to start this kind of research in their own countries?
Mohamed Keita: The advice I can give is to avoid talking for others, to try to listen to others and add your idea of what they have said. Don’t research only to find the right material but go deep to see the real keys. For the research,
there are so many ways to go deep. My approach is to start from my idea and share with my knowledge and, through that knowledge, arrive at a different understanding. This action helps me a lot to have other experiences while searching, and it also allows me to meet people who tell me their stories very freely.
Thus, I invite different people to deepen their knowledge and experiences, starting from other people in order not to stop at their understanding or personal experiences. It’s true we have something to give to others. But at the same time, others also have something to give to us.
This photo series is supported by the Stars4Media pilot project.
“Intercultural describes communities in which there are a deep understanding and respect for all cultures”, writes Paula Schriefer, President and CEO at Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning in Colorado, US, on the institute’s website in 2016. According to her, “intercultural communication focuses on the mutual exchange of ideas and cultural norms and the development of deep relationships. In an intercultural society, no one is left unchanged because everyone learns from one another and grows together”.
Mohamed Keita is a 27-year-old photojournalist from the Ivory Coast, based in Rome. In 2017, Keita founded a photo lab for street children in Mali, and he has been involved with a centre for minors in Rome, Civico ZeroA, for many years. Keita has plans to keep working on his photo and video documentary until he reaches fifty intercultural families in Italy. His aim is to publish a book, launch a website, and organise exhibitions.