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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 3 Hands on Memories and Silences 177

Extract

Part 3 Hands on Memories and Silences This part of the dissertation tries to readdress the two that preceded it by stressing the existence of continuities in spite of change. Change that, however partial, was eroding the ground on which the historical production regarding Italian colonialism and its civilising mission was rooted. The various themes that will shortly be presented reflect cultural realities that are highly relevant, but not necessarily directly linked to the Italian colonial past in Africa. Paying attention to particularly significant cultural artefacts highlights the struggle of different forces in the produc- tion of culture and the changing balance of power between the ex- colonised and ex-colonists. The first chapters are concerned with shifts in the sphere of values in conceptions of nature and national identity. With regard to the latter, two films dealing with Italian colonialism in Greece and not Africa have been chosen as key, although not exclusive, examples. It is my underlying contention that the military tribunal’s reaction to the mere idea for one of these films (Renzo Renzi’s L’armata s’agapò in 1953) as well as the arrest and imprisonment of the subject writer and his editor, acted as a deterrent towards the production of other films that might have dealt in an alternative way with the Italian colonial past. Obviously these films on the Italian experience in occupied Greece do not aim to describe the colonial past in Africa, but deal in a straightforward fashion with shifting meanings in what consti- tuted an...

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