Documenting De-colonial Practices through Comics: Joe Sacco’s Paying the Land


  • Mattia Arioli University of Bologna



Joe Sacco, documentary comics, Dene people, Canada, colonialism


Being a “cool medium” (McLuhan 1964) comics provide less sensory information and therefore demands more involvement and/or ‘completion’ by the reader/viewer. They ask for slowness, as the viewer has to recompose, understand, and question the existing relation between words and pictures. This mode of fruition contrasts with the rapid way we generally consume news (even though they might use a similar visual-verbal syntax). Their slowness help comics visualize the stories of those who have been ignored/neglected by the international arena and makes the reader witness human rights violation and abuses (Chute 2016). This paper aims to discuss how Joe Sacco’s Paying the Land (2020) (re)narrates the past and present relationship between Aboriginal people and (all) Canadians. This comics testifies to the existence of allied depictions (as Joe Sacco is not of Aboriginal descent and does not appropriate Indigenous stories) that aim to break (even controversially) the silence about past and present sufferings of the Dene peoples in Canada, but also shows forms of Indigenous activism and healing practices that aim to re-construct community ties.


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How to Cite

Arioli, M. (2022). Documenting De-colonial Practices through Comics: Joe Sacco’s Paying the Land. DIVE-IN – An International Journal on Diversity and Inclusion, 2(2), 51–78.