In this episode, Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste and Italian artist and photographer Laura Fiorio sit down with ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck. The conversation centers on the colonial history of Italy in Ethiopia. Mengiste talks about the often overlooked role of women in Ethiopia's fight against Italian occupation during World War II, and Italian artist Fiorio talks about her work “My fascist Grandpa.” Both bring their perspectives to contextualize photography and its manifold meaning and ability to hold and tell truths.

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Maaza Mengiste is a novelist, essayist, and photographer. She is the author of the novel, The Shadow King, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and was a 2020 LA Times Book Prize Fiction finalist. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by the* Guardian* as one of the 10 best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and other publications.


Laura Fiorio is a freelance photographer based in Berlin and Verona. In her artistic practice she deals with urban spaces and the political tension between private and public. Her projects, developed through choral narratives, interact with exhisting archives and materials, questioning the power dynamics embedded in the editing process of images as memories, their instutionalized use and hence their critical and subversive potential.

Photo Credit

© Vittoria Trovato / Laura Fiorio
© Nina Subin / Maaza Mengiste