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Memories and Silences Haunted by Fascism

Italian Colonialism MCMXXX-MCMLX

Daniela Baratieri

Fascist and colonial legacies have been determinant in shaping how Italian colonialism has been narrated in Italy till the late 1960s. This book deals with the complex problem of public memory and discursive amnesia.
The detailed research that underpins this book makes it no longer possible to claim that after 1945 there was an absolute and traumatic silence concerning Italy’s colonial occupation of North and East Africa. However, the abiding public use of this history confirms the existence of an extremely selective and codified memory of that past.
The author shows that colonial discourse persisted in historiography, newspapers, newsreels and film. Popular culture appears intertwined with political and economic interests and the power inscribed in elite and scientific knowledge. While readdressing the often mistaken historical time line that ignores that actual Italian colonial ties did not end with the fall of Fascism, but in 1960 with Somalia becoming independent, this book suggests that a new post Fascist Italian identity was the crucial issue in reappraisals of a national colonial past.


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Introduction 13


History as celebrated by Mnemosoune is a deciphering of the invisible, a geography of the supernatural... It throws a bridge between the world of the living and that beyond to which everything that leaves the light of day must return. It brings about an evocation of the past... Memory appears as a source of immortality... Jean-Pierre Vernant1 The politics of discourse concerning the past have become almost completely severed from the language of myth and ritual, in the traditional sense. Rather, they turn on a linear account of events organised around historically dateable written texts... But this is a difference in the mode and currency of such discourse, and not a different principle. Arjun Appadurai 2 One ought never to assume that the structure of [a dis- cursive formation] is nothing more than a structure of lies or of myths which, were the truth about to be told, would simply blow away. Edward W. Said3 There is no binary division to be made between what one says and what one does not say; we must try to determine the different ways of not saying such things, how those who can and those who cannot speak of them are distributed, which type of discourse is authorised, or which form of discretion is required in either case. There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses. Michel Foucault4 1 Jean Pierre Vernant, Myth and Thought Among the Greeks (London: Routledge-Kegan...

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