‘Going out of stock’: Mulattoes and Levantines in Italian literature and cinema of the Fascist period

Posted in Africa, Dissertations, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2011-10-09 02:14Z by Steven

‘Going out of stock’: Mulattoes and Levantines in Italian literature and cinema of the Fascist period

University of Connecticut
255 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3329116
ISBN: 9780549826118

Rosetta Giuliani Caponetto

A Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut

My dissertation examines, within Fascist propagandist literature and cinema of the 1930s, the hybrid figures of mulattoes—the offspring of interracial unions between Italian men and native women of Italy’s African colonies—and Levantines—white Italian immigrant merchants and craftsmen living in Alexandria, Egypt, who culturally intermingled with other ethnic groups. The popular novels and feature films I examine reveal the mulattoes and Levantines as interchangeable characters invalidating Benito Mussolini’s efforts at establishing a national identity based on a common cultural background, racial attributes, and religious beliefs. As my title suggests, I take mulattoes and Levantines out of the cinematic and literary “stock” of propaganda, where they were depicted as outside the stirpe (stock) of the Italian people, to reveal the inconsistencies within Fascist ideals of racial and cultural purity. In historical and anthropological terms, I intend to bring to light how literary and cinematic devices used to stigmatize mulattoes and Levantines often undermine themselves, calling attention to what was supposed to be absent or different from what was in “stock,” in the works themselves, in the actual peoples depicted and even in the motives of Fascist colonial enterprises. My analysis is informed by the framework of studies on exoticism, hybridity and mimicry, passing and the tragic mulatto, masculinity and femininity, and cultural studies, all of which lead back to the question: Why did Italians resist the ethnic and cultural metissage during colonialism and still to this day insist on “whiteness” when they describe themselves and their culture?

Table of Contents

  • Approval Page
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: ‘Speaking of Itself:’ Exoticism in ‘African Works’ of the Early Italian Colonialism
    • 1.1. Introduction
    • 1.2. Italian Colonialism from the Purchase of the Bay of Assab to the Ethiopian Campaign
    • 1.3. Exoticism and Colonialism
    • 1.4. Exploration and First Italian Colonization: Piaggia, Franzoj, Bianchi and Martini
    • 1.5. Italian Anthropology in the Second Half of the 19th Century and the Hamitic Theory
    • 1.6. Africa in the Literary Works of De Amicis, Salgari, D’Annunzio and Marinetti
  • Chapter Two: ‘Art of Darkness:’ The Aestheticization of Black People in Fascist Colonial Novel
    • 2.1. Introduction
    • 2.2. Mixed Race Children in Italy’s African Colonies
    • 2.3. The Colonial Novel
    • 2.4. Disciplining the Native Population and the Italian Audience
    • 2.5. Rosolino Gabrielli’s II piccolo Brassa
    • 2.6. Arnaldo Cipolla’s Melograno d’Oro, regina d’Etiopia
  • Chapter Three: Undermining Fascist Policies of Order and Risanamento. The Dissident Literature of Enrico Pea and Fausta Cialente
    • 3.1. Introduction
    • 3.2. Alexandria of Egypt: Historical Framework
    • 3.3. The Italian Emigrants of Alexandria
    • 3.4. Growing up in the Shadow of Alexandria
    • 3.5. Enrico Pea’s Egyptian Novels
    • 3.6. Fausta Cialente’s Levantine Characters
  • Chapter Four: Fade to White:’ How Italian Cinema Affiliated with Fascism Framed the Native Population of Italy’s African Colonies
    • 4.1. Introduction
    • 4.2. Demographic Colonization of Ethiopia
    • 4.3. Italian Cinema before Fascism
    • 4.4. ‘African Films’ during the Fascist Period
    • 4.5. Augusto Genina’s Lo squadrone bianco
    • 4.6. Guido Brignone’s Sotto La Croce del Sud
  • Bibliography

Purchase the dissertation here.

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