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Davide Lombardo
Lecturer, New York University Florence Read More ...
Marcella Simoni
Professor, Universitą Ca“ Foscari, Venezia Read More ...

2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the Italian anti-Jewish Racial laws of 1938; we consider this dramatic event as a starting point to investigate on the languages, practices, representations, and memories of race and racisms in Italy in the 20th century. In this workshop we will look at the ways, the means and at the languages in which racism has found expression and agency in Italy in different geographical and historical contexts.

Among the most obvious and influential cases are Libya and Ethiopia, the already mentioned Racial laws and the massacres and deportations of Jews, Communists, Slovenians, Istrians during the Second world war. Reflecting on the Italian experience of discrimination and racism also involves engaging with the development of Italian working diasporas in all continents between the end of the 19th century and the 1950s as well as with the fact that, more recently, Italy has become the home of various extra-European temporary and/or permanent working diasporas whose path has come to intersect the internal migrations South-North that have characterized much of Italy’s history and perception of the Other. Within this long-term perspective are there moments of ruptures or discontinuities, is 1945 one of these? Is the end of the 20th century and the arrival of the first waves of migrants from Africa and Eastern European a watershed in this context? How does gender intersect with racism, for example at work or at school in language or in advertising, just to quote a few example? How is racism displayed and acted in daily life and how is it represented in the minds of the new generations? How are perceptions of color shifting according to social and economic status, education and language? Is language lacking the instruments to define and describe the complexities of racism? And as racism and xenophobia appear to be endemic phenomena, both from a historical perspective and looking at global current affairs, how is then racism understood, studied and analysed in different cultural and political contexts? How much of such analysis is regulated by hegemonic notions of how racism should be understood? Is there a paradigmatic experience that drives this understanding? And to what extent does it impact on the study of different contexts?

We will approach these questions using an interdisciplinary framework. Racism and discrimination in Italy have found (and continue to find) expressions in many ways and fields, from pseudo-science to legislation, from representation in literature, cinema and advertising to the political discourse on un/documented migrants and asylum seekers. For obvious reasons of time, in this workshop we will focus on three aspects of this long history of discrimination and racism. In the first place we intend to look at how legislation and law have helped constructing or deconstructing theories and practices of racism in various historical moments in Italy. Secondly, we will shift our attention to the question of Diasporas, refugees and migratory flows, whether from or into Italy at different times. Finally, we will move on to the multifaceted world of representing ethnic differences as racial in the media, whether through post-colonial literature, photography, film and advertising.

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9:30 am Welcome Remarks and Introduction 

Ellyn Toscano, Executive Director, NYU Florence 

Marcella Simoni, NYU Florence and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice 

Davide Lombardo, NYU Florence 

10:00 Racism in Italy During Fascism and Beyond? 

Chair: Marcella Simoni, NYU Florence and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

Panelists: Arturo Marzano, University of Pisa, The Racial Laws in Italy: Short and Long-term Implications 

Annalisa Capristo, Center for American Studies in Rome, Gather What You Can and Flee”: Mussolini’s Race Laws and the Jewish Intellectual Emigration from Fascist Italy 

Toshio Miyake, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, The ‘Japanese Race’ in “La Difesa Della Razza” (1938-43): Whiteness and Yellowness in Fascist Italy 

Vito Zagarrio, Roma Tre University, “Harlem’s” Ghost: Racism in Fascist Cinema and the Representation of Rascism in Italian Cinema

12:00 pm Lunch on Campus

2:15 Migrations and Diasporas 

Chair: Debora Spini, NYU Florence 

Laura De Giorgi, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Notions of Race and Civilization in Italian Travel Literature about China from Facism to the Cold War 

Anna Marsden, Independent Scholar, Impact of Discrimination and Ethnic Labeling on Second Generation Chinese in Italy 

Kathryn Lum, University of Nottingham, Racism and the Indian Communities in Italy 

Monica Gonzalez Correa, European University Institute, 

4:15 Coffe-Break

4:30 The Evolving Italian Context 

Chair: Davide Lombardo, NYU Florence 

Eva Garau, University of Cagliari, From Strangers to Enemies: A Historical Account of Italian Legislation on Immigration and Citizenship 

Angelica Pesarini, NYU Florence, La Difesa Della Razza: The Resurgence of the Language of Race in the Italian Political Discourse 

Gaia Giuliani, University of Coimbra, Race, Gender and the Nation in Contemporary Italy 

Debora Spini, NYU Florence, The Racialization of Religion in Italy

6:30 Conclusions and Future Perspectives 

Marcella Simoni, NYU Florence and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

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