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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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4. The Illustrated Press and the Verbosity of Silence 139

Extract

Chapter 4 The Illustrated Press and the Verbosity of Silence It also, but perhaps above all, through these [illustrated magazines] that Italians–after the propaganda orgy of the days of the Fascist Empire and the embarassed silente of the forties and fifties–return their gaze on Africa.195 In Italy, in the mid-fifties, little was said about Africa… In those years, when they did turn their attentinon to Africa, photographers and journalists sought to establish links with the colonial past. Italy had lost the colonies on the battlfields of the Fascist war and did not therefore have to debate, as was the case in France and Britain in those years, the destiny of her overseas empire. Nicola Labanca196 Leafing through illustrated magazines of the forties, fifties and even of the sixties is quite disappointing if one is searching for an embarrassed silence but much more so if one expects to find little concerning Africa. As will be shown, during this period journalists presented the readers with what may be described as colonial nostalgia, that is to say descriptions of the colonial past were permeated by a sense of loss. Aiello points out how, in the imme- diate postwar period, in illustrated magazines news coexisted with a novel genre consisting of a cross between the re-evocative account and the historical essay. The latter was always styled in such a way as to be viewed as pertinent to current affairs. Inter- estingly, among the examples Aiello gives, two deal specifically with Italy’s colonial...

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