Given the centrality of Africa to Italy's national identity, a thorough study of Italian colonial history and culture has been long overdue. Two important developments, the growth of postcolonial studies and the controversy surrounding immigration from Africa to the Italian peninsula, have made it clear that the discussion of Italy's colonial past is essential to any understanding of the history and construction of the nation. This collection, the first to gather articles by the most-respected scholars in Italian colonial studies, highlights the ways in which colonial discourse has pervaded Italian culture from the post-unification period to the present. During the Risorgimento, Africa was invoked as a limb of a proudly resuscitated Imperial Rome. During the Fascist era, imperialistic politics were crucial in shaping both domestic and international perceptions of the Italian nation.
These contributors offer compelling essays on decolonization, exoticism, fascist and liberal politics, anthropology, and historiography, not to mention popular literature, feminist studies, cinema, and children's literature. Because the Italian colonial past has had huge repercussions, not only in Italy and in the former colonies but also in other countries not directly involved, scholars in many areas will welcome this broad and insightful panorama of Italian colonial culture.
Introduction: Italian Colonial Cultures
PART I. THE SHAPING OF ITALIAN COLONIAL HISTORY: POLITICAL PRACTICES AND THEORETICAL LEGITIMIZATION
The Myths, Suppressions, Denials and Defaults of Italian Colonialism
Angelo Del Boca
Studies and Research on Fascist Colonialism, 1922–1935: Reflections on the State of the Art
Italian Anthropology and the Africans: The Early Colonial Period
The Construction of Racial Hierarchies in Colonial Eritrea: The Liberal and Early Fascist Period (1897–1934)
PART II. COLONIAL LITERATURE: FROM EXPLORATION TO A DOMESTIC EMPIRE
Gifts, Sex, and Guns: Nineteenth-Century Italian Explorers in Africa
Incorporating the Exotic: From Futurist Excess to Postmodern Impasse
Alexandria Revisited: Colonialism and the Egyptian Works of Enrico Pea and Giuseppe Ungaretti
Mass-Mediated Fantasies of Feminine Conquest, 1930–1940
Orphans for the Empire: Colonial Propaganda and Children’s Literature during the Imperial Era
PART III. THE COLONIAL PRODUCTION OF AFRICA AND THE SILENT SCENE OF DECOLONIZATION
Colonial Autism: Whitened Heroes, Auditory Rhetoric, and National Identity in Interwar Italian Cinema
Black Shirts/Black Skins: Fascist Italy’s Colonial Anxieties and Lo Squadrone Bianco
Empty Spaces: Decolonization in Italy
Notes on Contributors
Patrizia Palumbo is Assistant Professor of Italian and French at Wagner College.
"This impressive volume succeeds in bringing Italian colonialism into the space of today’s most important debates regarding colonialism and multiculturalism."—Graziela Parati, author of Mediterranean Crossroads
"A significant collection that really has no equal to date. The essays in this volume investigate profoundly the relationship between Italian colonialism and Italian society, past and present."—Anthony Tamburri, author of A Semiotic of Rereading
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