Category: Black Italia

Black Italia Dialogues Speaker: Maaza Mengiste, Ethiopian-American writer

220px-Mengiste_Maaza_094.jpgNovelist Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she lived until her family fled during the communist revolution when she was four years old. This early period of her life provided inspiration for her upcoming novel, The Shadow King. After fleeing Ethiopia, Mengiste lived in Nigeria and Kenya before she eventually moved to the United States. Mengiste graduated with an MFA in creative writing from New York University.  She went on to become a professor at NYU, Queens College and Princeton University. Read more

State of Crisis

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Photo taken by Massimo Sestini

In the United States immigration and how to handle it is a humanitarian crisis that has become the center of political debate.  This is also the case in Europe. The European Union, which is made up of 28 member states, is extremely divided. Each member state has different regulations governing migration. The current crisis, that sees a high influx of immigrants coming to Europe for refuge, has reached serious proportions. War, displacement, and economic instability are driving larger numbers of people to abandon their homes in places like Syria, Eritrea, and Mali, among others and no end is in sight. Read more

Contemporary, Traditional, Italian Culinary Culture

The Extreme Excellence Project will be showcased at the upcoming EXPO 2015 – Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life – in Milan. The project is coordinated by the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture with the support of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, the Ministry for Cultural Assets, Activities and Tourism and the Ministry of Environment.

EXPO 2015 will take place from May 1-October 31, 2015.

LPD’s Black Italia series will continue this Spring. The full program will be available soon. Find out more about our Fall 2014 Dialogues on LPD’s Black Italia website, including student reports and photos and videos from the series.

Rosso, a poem by Cristina Ali Farah

Foamy dawn, you stole upon us, alone in the obscurity,

as we were leaving forever.

Me, in the dirty little truck with a precious bundle in my arms.

I stared, stunned, at the rifles resting on shoulders.

Somali rebels accompanied our farewell. And sand covered everything.

Among the slippery dunes, a few scattered huts.

Children came out shouting and women stretched out their arms.


This is the final farewell.

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The Case of Blackness in Renaissance Italy

Detail of the black gondolier, 1494, Miracles of the True Cross, by Vittorio Carpaccio (c. 1465-1525/1526), Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

Historian and co-director of the Center for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the Queen Mary College of London, Professor Kate Lowe, headed the discussion centered around the enforced immigration of black Africans to Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries at the LPD event “Disruptive Reality: Black Africans in Renaissance Italy”. By analyzing artistic and documented resources Professor Lowe provided an in depth look at the history of the presence of black Africans in Italy and, more specifically, Venice during this period of rebirth.

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Introduction to Imperfect Post Colonialism: Rapping From the Land of Punt

On November 18 at Villa La Pietra, there will be a dialogue introduced by Professor Alessandra di Maio with writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, publisher Isabella Feretti and Giovanna Bellesia of Smith College joining the conversation.

How has Italy’s past colonization of Africa affected its current identity? How is this effect viewed from the view point of ‘native’ Italians? What about the views of the colonized and the resulting African-Italian youths that find themselves in contemporary Italian culture? Read more

Introduction to the Dialogue “Disruptive Reality: Black Africans in Renaissance Italy”

In Visible Lives, Professor Lowe discusses the representation of the black African population in Medieval Venice through the depiction of black gondoliers in Renaissance paintings. Slavery was a widespread institution in late medieval Italy, and while most Africans came to the country as slaves, they finished their lives as free men. Being a gondolier was an important career because it provided a stable transition into Italian society. Although black gondoliers were a well known part of Renaissance society, naming practices and differences in colloquialism excluded them from having proper identification. In her research, Professor Lowe analyzes the artistic and documentary resources to explore the presence of black Africans in Renaissance Italy and establish their role in the country’s history.

Disruptive Reality: Black Africans in Renaissance Italy

This Wednesday’s dialogue will feature Kate Lowe, historian and professor of Renaissance History and Culture at Queen Mary, University of London. Professor Lowe has researched and written about the black African presence in the Italian Renaissance, an important topic when looking into Italy’s influx of immigration in recent decades and considering a preexistent Black identity in the country’s history. The Black Italia series has discussed so far the issue of immigrant assimilation into Italian society; this dialogue will bring in a new approach to establishing a sense of identity in the black Italian community with the use of historical context.