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Title: Hidden postcolonial conscience in Italian cinema : attempts to autodefine 'the Italian' through representations of the Black Other in the commedia all'italiana
Author: Luijnenburg, Linde Maria Elise
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 1241
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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In the debate surrounding the possible displacement of Italian Fascism and an accompanying denial of memories of colonisation, some scholars assume that Italian filmmakers concentrated with few (predominantly auterurist) exceptions on the former colonised (countries) only after ca. 1980, a narrative which keeps alive two myths: that of a 'backwards Italy', and that of the italiani brava gente. Analyses of four commedie all'italiana suggest otherwise: In this study, I centralise several portrayals of characters that I identify as Black Others, in which we could recognise an embodiment of the former colonised. Physically and/or behaviourally contrasted to characters that are presented as italiani medi, these characters are marked as different from 'Italians' - illustrating italiani medi's attempt to present themselves as white. I use this binary as a heuristic tool in order to unravel underlying patterns of binary oppositions that reconfirm prejudices and stereotypes stemming from the colonial period and its accompanying narratives, present in the Italian society at the time of the making of the films, many of which echoing in our current society. The connection between the four films (1952- 1968/73) makes way for a continuous dialogue surrounding constructions of italianità and several forms of o/Otherness, as portrayed through the comedic approach of the grotesque. The object of our ridicule turns out to be not a presumed Black Other in the minstrel tradition, but the character of the italiano medio, who continuously demonstrates a desperate need to construct out a physical Other from the imagined community of Italy; through the latter's eyes, italiani medi can exist. As such, they are denaturalised as the norm. In every next film, the character identifiable as the Black Other gains in agency, in the end, framing, and dominating, the narrative of the italiano medio.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PC Romance languages ; PN1993 Motion Pictures