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Title: Colour strategies : negotiations of black mixed race women's identities in colonial and postcolonial Italy
Author: Pesarini, Angelica
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 0327
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2015
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Starting from autobiographical accounts, this thesis represents the first study on black ‘mixed race’ Italian women using ‘race’, ‘gender’ and ‘Nation’ as markers for identity negotiations. It investigates phenomenological experiences of ‘mixed race’ embodiment lived by two generations of women born from a white Italian and a black East-African parent in the ex-Italian East African colonies (1890-1941) and who migrated to Italy in the 1970s. Using black feminist epistemology and qualitative research methods, the thesis interrogates the limits of Fanon’s idea of the ‘white look’ and it develops the ‘white female look’ as a tool to highlight the gendered connotations clearly neglected by Fanon and useful in this thesis to understand the construction of the racialised and gendered ‘mixed race’ body in colonial and postcolonial Italy. Furthermore, the analysis of the white (female) look in relations to the life histories collected, brought about the notion of ‘colour strategies’, which refers to the historical and contingent deployment of the racialised gaze capable of constructing the ‘mixed race’ body and used by ‘mixed race’ subjects themselves in order to build a narrative enabling them to justify their position in the world. The thesis argues that the complexities of ‘mixed race’ identifications for the women interviewed can be traced at the cracks of (post)colonial discourse on: 1) love and intimacy 2) violence and shame 3) home and belonging. The oral testimonies uncovered ambiguities and internal contradictions at the core of the Italian colonial discourse on ‘race’, gender and identity and shed light on everyday life negotiations. The data also reveals transgression of (post)colonial racial discursive boundaries often accompanied by practices of racialisation that may trigger shame, pain and violence. The original contribution to knowledge of this thesis is as follows. Firstly, it fills a gap in ‘critical mixed race studies’ addressing for the first time discussions of mixedness in relation to Italy. Secondly, it contributes to the development of Italian postcolonial studies in which mixedness appears as a severely under-investigated field. Thirdly, the study reveals unexplored negotiations of mixedness and sheds light on some hidden inscriptions of Italian colonial violence and resistance not investigated before.
Supervisor: Tate, Shirley Anne ; Sulis, Gigliola Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available