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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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5. The Biography of Things 255


Chapter 5 The Biography of Things Acknowledging Cinematographic Re-Editions In 1988 the Dutch film noire Spoorloos or The Vanishing was released. Five years later its director, George Sluizer, re-made the same movie for the American market and in the process radically changed the original film’s ending. In the Dutch version the film’s culprit’s crimes go unpunished whereas in the American re-make his actions lead to his eventual arrest. In an interview Sluizer explained that in order for the film to enter the US mainstream market the ending had to be modified implying that in American cinema the guilty must always be detected and punished. One might survey Hollywood films in the past three decades and quite likely find only very rare instances where a crime committer gets clean away. Whatever the reasons for this, the point that is being stressed here is that by juxtaposing two versions of the same story located in their specific national markets we get a superbly privi- leged insight into some cultural imperatives at work in both. Why is one ending acceptable in one locale and yet not so in another? Comparing films and their re-makes highlights not only a general preference, but more importantly stresses the specifically undesirable, making visible what is often recurrently and imper- ceptibly left out. The collection of texts included by Appadurai in The Social Life of Things203 powerfully illustrate how focusing on ‘things’ and their trajectories through time or space reveals the web of forces in which they are...

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