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Staging Memory

Myth, Symbolism and Identity in Postcolonial Italy and Libya

Stefania Del Monte

Memory in postcolonial Italy and Libya has been used, reinterpreted and staged by political powers and the media. This book investigates the roots of myth, colonial amnesia and censorship in postwar Italy, as well as Colonel Gaddafi’s deliberate use of rituals, symbols, and the colonial past to shape national identity in Libya. The argument is sustained by case studies ranging among film, documentary, literature and art, shedding new light on how memory has been treated in the two postcolonial societies examined. The last part briefly analyses the identity transformation process in the new Libya.
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Memory Misrepresentation, Identity Distortion and Total Repression in Postcolonial Libya


A special contribution by Libyan writer and historian Muftah Al-Sayyid Al Sharif

In addition to deeply analyzing memory issues, Stefania Del Monte’s book poses the accent on the willful removal, by Italy, of the crucial events that characterized the colonial occupation of Libya. Events that struggle to emerge even seven decades after the end of Fascism. Del Monte carries out a meticulous analysis of this phenomenon, significantly contributing to the work of researchers who, like in my case, have spent years studying and writing about Italy’s rule in Libya. As underlined by the author, memory today is the result of a dissonant chorus of voices and the only certainty on which we can all agree is that no two people invoking the term memory use it in the same way. The work well demonstrates how, after the war, collective memory in Italy was a victim of legend, amnesia and censorship and how, since Gaddafi’s raise to power, in 1969, his media machine made an extensive use of the Italian occupation, mainly with the intent of polishing the profile of the tyrant and feeding his narcissism.

It is also true that after the revolution of 2011 the Libyans started working on the restoration of their lost identity, as during the Gaddafi era the numerous attempts – by the dictator – to transform Libya into an Islamic State, first, and a Pan-Arabic and Pan-African one, later, had contributed to the formation of a distorted Libyan national identity. Even...

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