Just to prove I have actually been studying here in Rome I am posting a small portion of my two ten-page papers I had to write for class. This specific piece for my History and Politics of Migration course discusses the graffiti in Rome.
Rome is the city of fantasy. Every Hollywood movie to enter its Aurelian walls has made sure to glorify its superficial splendor. From images of the Pantheon to the movie Eat, Pray, Love, all I have ever seen of this city is a romanticized conqueror’s glory. To most people I know, from ages seven on, it had become known as a city of life whose common definition is the words splendor, passion, and intrigue. This is the reason why very few friends, family, and distant relatives have ever asked me why I chose to study in Rome, the answer is blatantly clear to most people; because it’s Rome.
But fantasy is just that; imaginary. The Colosseum does not look like it always did, in fact, there’s something suspiciously different about it. Gladiators no longer roam around its interior, those men are now Bangladeshi migrants who sell trinkets to travelers for a living; a whole different kind of game. Instead of hearing the chants of gorey Romans waiting for the spectacle that is slaves murdering one another for pure entertainment, visitors see the walls of a tagged monument, no blank space uncovered by the words of both travelers and locals alike.
Already, without even a remote understanding of Italian politics, the main sights of Rome are slightly different than what is to be expected; this is interference in the empire. The ruins of ancient Roman success have turned the city into a crystallized, modern, capitalistic, tourist factory; one which can control the ruins, but not the environment which surrounds them.
These moments of incongruence signal that the propagandized image of Rome is very different than its reality. In order to understand the most accurate portrait of the real Rome as a non Italian speaker, I’m going to analyze its graffiti. I have begun to look at walls as a place where I, as a tourist, can begin to understand local perspectives and viewpoints through a medium which I actually have the time to analyze and translate. This visual form of wall poetry represents the voices of those pleading for freedom and a better life. The walls are arguments and dialogues which will tell me more about Rome than a monument ever could.
And then it continues for ten more pages.