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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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The present study is based on a comprehensive literary review, with a focus on the staging, representation and reinterpretation of memory in the field of media, including cinema, literature, and art. The almost total absence, in Italy, of a postcolonial debate combined with the extremely limited availability, in Libya, of material in English have steered the research towards studies conducted by the international academy and have directed the focus on specific media that could well illustrate the manipulation of memory in the two contexts. For such reason, a series of case studies enriches and further explores the discourse, offering a practical view of how memory has been treated.

In the first part, the analysis mainly refers to research conducted by historians belonging to the Italian academy, above all Angelo Del Boca, whose publications provide the most detailed account of the Italian occupation of Libya. Works in the field of postcolonial studies have also been extremely useful in building the argumentation of a repressed and forgotten memory while the focus on Mario Tobino’s The Deserts of Libya18 and Mario Monicelli’s The Desert Roses19 is essential in sustaining the evidence of a staged memory in postcolonial Italy. The argument is also supported by a wide range of books, articles, academic papers, films, TV interviews and documentaries. In particular, two television documentaries – Muammar Gheddafi: Tutti i Volti del Potere from the series ‘La Storia siamo Noi’,20 and Correva l’Anno: Muammar Gaddafi21 – have been selected as ← 27 | 28 → sources...

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