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Conflicts of Memory

The Reception of Holocaust Films and TV Programmes in Italy, 1945 to the Present

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Emiliano Perra

Situated at the confluence of history, media and cultural studies, this book reconstructs the often deeply discordant and highly selective memories of the Holocaust in Italy in the postwar era. The author’s core method is one of reception analysis, centred on the public responses to the many films and television programmes that have addressed the Holocaust from the 1940s to the present day. Tied to the heritage of Fascism, antifascism, and the Resistance, public memory of the Holocaust in Italy has changed greatly over the years. Self-acquitting myths of Italian innocence and victimhood, and universalising interpretations grounded in Catholicism and Communism, provided the initial frameworks for understanding the Holocaust. However, the last two decades have seen an increasing centrality of the Holocaust in memory culture but have also witnessed the establishment of a paradigm that relativises other fascist crimes and levels the differences between Fascism and antifascism. Working with the largest corpus yet established of Holocaust film and television in Italy, from the 1948 retelling of the Wandering Jew myth to Roberto Benigni’s controversial Life Is Beautiful, from the American miniseries Holocaust to Perlasca: The Courage of a Just Man, Conflicts of Memory probes Italy’s ongoing, if incomplete, process of coming to terms with this important aspect of its past.

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Acknowledgements vii Chapter one Introduction 1 Chapter two Early Postwar Debates: Between Catholicism and Resistance 27 Chapter three ‘You Are One of Us’: The Early 1960s 49 Chapter four The ‘New Discourse’ and the Universalisation of the Holocaust 79 Chapter five The Non-Event: The Broadcast of Holocaust 117 Chapter six From the Centrality of the Resistance to that of the Holocaust 149 Chapter seven Postwar Debates on the Vatican during the Holocaust 187 Chapter eight Conclusion: A Post-Antifascist Memory of the Holocaust? 217 vi List of Films and TV Programmes 233 Bibliography 239 Index 277

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