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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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3. Newsreels: Comparing Fascist and Non-Fascist Imaginary 115

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Chapter 3 Newsreels Comparing: Fascist and Non-Fascist Imaginary This section will analyse representations of the Italian colonial and post-colonial encounter/conflict using the newsreels produced by the Istituto Luce and the the Incom between 1928 and 1966 which are held in the Istituto Luce Spa archive.114 The following analysis takes a comparative approach. On the one hand representations made during the Fascist period are compared with those of the Italian Republic, and on the other, fragments of the colonial past are analysed on the backdrop of their transcription in contempo- rary newsreels. By comparing newsreel narrations on Italy’s presence in Africa with the way colonialism was imagined before and after, the centrality of silence in strategies of the public use of history will be illustrated. Both during and after Fascism the newsreels interpreted the past in a historical-positivistic way. It occurred as a linear evolution that destroyed what is primitive and subjugates nature, but which at the same time still required a traditional heritage and traceable origins. According to this Grand Narrative, historical change is elaborated in terms of progress and modernity. The latter are terms that do not have a single and pre- determined meaning but rather are given meaning through concrete illustrated dichotomies always related to the present. Michel Foucault argued that modernity should be considered more than anything as an ‘attitude’. By this he meant a mode of relating to contemporary reality; a voluntary choice made by certain people; in the end, a way of thinking and feeling;...

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