Equivocal Subjects: Between Italy and Africa -- Constructions of Racial and National Identity in the Italian Cinema

Author(s): Shelleen Greene

Performing Arts

Equivocal Subjects puts forth an innovative reading of the Italian national cinema. Shelleen Greene argues that from the silent era to the present, the cinematic representation of the "mixed-race" or interracial subject has served as a means by which Italian racial and national identity have been negotiated and re-defined. She examines Italy's colonial legacy, histories of immigration and emigration, and contemporary politics of multiculturalism through its cultural production, providing new insights into its traditional film canon. Analysing the depiction of African Italian mixed-race subjects from the historical epics of the Italian silent "golden" era to the contemporary period, this enlightening book engages the history of Italian nationalism and colonialism through theories of subject formation, ideologies of race, and postcolonial theory. Greene's approach also provides a novel interpretation of recent developments surrounding Italy's status as a major passage for immigrants seeking to enter the European Union. This book provides an original theoretical approach to the Italian cinema that speaks to the nation's current political and social climate.


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A thorough study of the portrayal of race in Italian cinema, from the silent era to the present, illuminating issues in contemporary Italian society.

Equivocal Subjects is an important and innovative piece of scholarship. It offers new and much needed insight into Italian cinema and its histories of race. Equally challenging perhaps is its insistence on 'Italy as a site of African diasporic identity formation.' Greene's focus on the mixed-race subject revises the history of Italian cinema, and suggestively re-routes the contours of overly familiar geographies of racial difference. --Derek Duncan, Professor of Italian Cultural Studies, University of Bristol, UK. Greene's illuminating book draws on an impressive range of sources to explore the intersecting constructions of race and nation in Italian cinema over the course of a century. Combining historical analysis with close readings of landmark films, this persuasively argued account makes a pathbreaking contribution to Italian film studies.--Aine O'Healy, Professor of Italian and Director of the Humanities Program, Loyola Marymount University, USA This is a highly original and insightful study of the figure of the mixed-race subject in Italian cinema. Covering films from the early 20th century to those dealing with contemporary representations of Italian-African interracial relationships, the book shows the continuing legacy of racial discourses linked to colonialism, migration and Italy's historic North/South division. In its specific examination of the Italy-Africa mixture, it goes beyond the traditional identification of the mixed-race subject as simply the off-spring of Italian and African parents and identifies Italians themselves as mixed-race. Highlighting Italy's own internal racialisation of the Italian South and Italians' ascribed racial in-betweenness, Greene brilliantly highlights the contextual and precarious nature of racial identities and categorisation. She makes a compelling argument about how 'mixed-race' is a particularly unique lens through which to investigate ideologies of race and nation in Italy.--Jacqueline Andall, Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies, University of Bath

Shelleen Greene is Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Design, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

INTRODUCTION Chapter One: From "Making Italians" to Envisioning Postcolonial Italy Chapter Two: Mixed-Race Relationships in the Italian Colonial and Postcolonial Imaginary... Chapter Three: Negotiations of Interracial Identity and Citizenship in the Post-War Cinema and Beyond Chapter Four: Transatlantic Crossings: Representing Hierarchies of Whiteness in the Cinema of the Economic Miracle Chapter Five: Zumurrud in her Camera: Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Global South in Contemporary Italian Film CONCLUSION Filmography Bibliography Index

General Fields

  • : 9781472535214
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Academic
  • : January 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Shelleen Greene
  • : Paperback
  • : 328