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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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Staging Memory

Evidence of a staged memory, both in postcolonial Italy and Libya, clearly emerges from the series of elements analysed in this book. As previously mentioned the word staging was intended, in this context, in the sense of orchestrating and coordinating the various aspects of a situation with the intent of producing a desired effect, and a brief illustration of the historical events of the two countries has shown how young and fragmented Italy and Libya both used colonialism as a tool of unification. In the postcolonial era they adopted opposite approaches, with Italy repressing – or forgetting – its past as a coloniser and Gaddafi’s Libya nurturing memory and fully embracing the role of the colonised. When examining these contexts from the perspective of a staged memory, however, it can be seen how – although the initial targets were completely different – the two strategies actually ended up obtaining the same results and collective memory, both in Italy and in Libya, is today the product of manipulation.

Although at first sight the link between some of the material selected and the research conducted might not appear immediately obvious, a deeper analysis reveals a common thread running all over the book and how each single section ultimately contributes to reinforcing the argumentation of a staged memory in postcolonial Italy and Libya. Throughout the whole work, memory of the colonial occupation is shaped, performed and displayed in many different ways, assuming the form of a film or a...

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