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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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Part 1 Theatres of Memory:Hegemony in the Structures Producing Culture 31

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Part 1 Theatres of Memory: Hegemony in the Structures Producing Culture This book uses a variety of sources as a viable method to investigate how Italian colonialism was elaborated for different generations of audiences in light of the observation of Samuel that: ‘Once ascertained that the evocation of the past is not the prerogative of the historian, but rather a form of knowledge; the work, in any given instance, of a thousand different hands.’1 This project relies substantially on newsreels, films, illustrated mag- azines and history books. It suggests that they should be seen as either theatres or sites or storages of memory and oblivion. This is to posit them plainly as archives of history telling, while also recognising the existence of a plurality of people involved at different stages in the creation, diffusion and preservation of historical accounts. Such an approach has the advantage of leaving the relationship between these cultural products and the people they addressed as problematic and open to investigation. Furthermore, it continuously raises queries about the connections between different media while exploring how the reception of compelling social or cultural demands and previous accounts, actually elaborated versions of a same past. Different agents operated within each specific site where hands and brains inter- acted according to rules which had established different hier- archical responsibilities and opportunities. These sites are very tangible. The ownership and control of their activities matters, as does the means and logic by which personnel are selected or how the product is...

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