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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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1. The Makers of Italian News in Motion 37

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Chapter 1 The Makers of Italian News in Motion One can confidently say that the Istituto LUCE embodies a theatre that has provided and stored memories of Italian colonialism on newsreels that span exactly the period under analysis. It may come as a surprise that the literature on the subject, although scant,4 tends to give an overall picture of this institute as solely belonging to the Fascist period and regime. Although Mino Argentieri offers an excellent and accurate account of the increasing deployment of cinema by the state in 20th century Europe, without overlooking its connections with the private sector and the fate of this medium in Italy after the fall of Fascism, the Institute is presented essentially as ‘the eye of the Regime’. Apart from the recent monographs Le stagioni dell’aquila by Ernesto Laura and La Settimana Incom edited by Augusto Sainati,5 in later analyses this approach has overshadowed the complexity of Argentieri’s account. If Argentieri’s metaphor is able to capture the important visual function of Luce and its state-centred organisation, the history of this institution forces one to expand the metaphor to ‘the eye of the regimes’: first the Fascist and then republican. More specifically, while during Fascism the Luce may well be considered the apple of the regime’s eye: ‘the Regime’s pupil,’6 it lost its 4 Cardillo’s interviews with several Italian intellectuals reveal a strong and multiform diffidence towards considering Fascist newsreels as a valid ‘historical source’, reflecting a more comprehensive distrust in audio-visual...

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