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‘L’occhio del regime’ and the Nostalgia of the Empire: Propaganda and Cultural Legacies of Italian Colonialism

11 aprile 2024
2:00 pm
San Francesco Complex - classroom 1

A century ago (1924) the Istituto Luce was born, soon becoming the most characteristic propaganda institution of the Fascist State. The peak of its visual production was reached during the years of the Fascist occupation of Ethiopia (1936-41). Although imperial film propaganda built upon a series of images and narratives disseminated since the early twentieth century, in the late Thirties this action invaded every aspect of the daily lives of Italians, thus contributing to reinforcing stereotypes and racist assumptions about African people. In a rather peculiar way, these celluloid images did not cease to operate once the imperial season ended and fascism fell: the audiovisual debris of colonialism, particularly in the immediate post-war period, were archived but also re-used and re-signified to create a positive, biased, and even nostalgic discourse and memorialization of Italy’s past presence in Africa. In this context, to grasp the intricate configuration of colonial legacies in Italy, we might consider juxtaposing the centenary of Luce with another significant anniversary. I am referring to the fortieth anniversary of Angelo Del Boca's fourth volume of his tetralogy, Gli italiani in Africa Orientale. Nostalgia delle colonie (1984), which reflects on the peculiar Italian decolonization and its (failed) cultural and social implications. Starting from these two anniversaries, and from the discussion of the monograph Vedere l'impero. L'Istituto Luce e il colonialismo fascista (2022), the seminar intends to discuss historiographical trends, research methods, and practices of fruition of the Italian colonial film archive. We will address the production, circulation, uses, and (uncritical or critical) reuse of celluloid debris of expansionism, reflecting also on possible methodological paths and synergies between archives, academic research, and artistic practices to question the enduring impact of expansionism in the socio-cultural fabric of contemporary Italy.


Join at: imt.lu/aula1

Gianmarco Mancosu, British Academy, London