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Migration and the Contemporary Mediterranean

Shifting Cultures in Twenty-First-Century Italy and Beyond

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Edited By Claudia Gualtieri

This collection of essays presents a study of migration cultures in the contemporary Mediterranean with a particular focus on Italy as a point of migratory convergence and pressure. It investigates different experiences of, and responses to, sea crossings, borders and checkpoints, cultural proximity and distance, race, ethnicity and memory, along with creative responses to the same. In dialogic and complementary interaction, the essays explore violence centring on race as the major determining factor. The book further submits that the interrogation of racialized categories represents different kinds of critical response and resistance, which involve both political struggle and day-to-day survival and coexistence. Following the praxis of cultural and postcolonial studies, the essays focus on the present but draw indispensable insight from past connections and heritage as well as offering prognoses for the future. The ambitious aim of this collection is to identify some useful lines of thought and action that could help us to think outside intricacy, isolation and defensiveness, which characterize most of the public official reactions to migration today.

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14 Identity, memory, gender and plurilingualism in postcolonial women writers from Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia (Daniele Comberiati)

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DANIELE COMBERIATI

14 Identity, memory, gender and plurilingualism in postcolonial women writers from Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia

ABSTRACT

This chapter will analyse the forms of representation of the Other and the memory of colonization in migrant Italian literature from the 1980s until today. It will analyse some important women migrant writers – Ubax Cristina Ali Farah, Erminia Dell’Oro, Maria Abbebù Viarengo and Luciana Capretti – the history and evolution of this literature, and will elaborate on the definition of postcolonial Italian writers. This chapter will consider some novels which have appeared on the Italian literary scene over the last thirty years. It is a time period during which this emergent form of writing becomes more and more important at a narrative level, also displaying affinities with cinema and canonical Italian literature. The chapter will analyse the role and relevance of this literature in the process of reconstruction of Italian national identity today. I will argue that this identity is based on the ‘divided’ memory of the history of the country. Could this divided memory – linked to nation-building from the First World War to the fascist period and later, to the history of Italian migration, to the role of Italy during the Cold War, and to the current immigration fluxes – be rewritten by contemporary migrant women writers?

Introduction

Italy began its colonial adventure in Eritrea and Somalia in the 1860s.1 Before the colonial conquest, however, Italy had organized expeditions...

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