Ibridità (im)possibili. Discorso coloniale e meticciato in Mal d'Africa di Bacchelli e Sambadù, amore negro di Mura

Roberto Derobertis


This essay aims at exploring, connecting and understanding historical events such as the official beginning of Fascist antisemitism and its colonial racist roots, Italian colonial War on Ethiopia, racial laws, and cultural artifacts (mainly the novels Mal d'Africa by Riccardo Bacchelli and Sambadù, amore negro by Maria Volpi Nannipieri), which happened and circulated in Italy around 1934 and 1938.

At this specific conjuncture, an internationally isolated Fascist Italy was going to conquer Ethiopia, while African people were arriving from its long term colonies (such as Eritrea), jazz music was played and consumed in the urban nightlife of the country and literature – but also periodicals, advertising, popular culture and common sense – were contributing to the clash of and the coexistence between colonial anti-African racism, sexism and the disturbing/seducing appeal of racial hybridity, which was one of the long term effects of the colonial encounter. At the same time, the foundational racism based on the anthropological, cultural and political discrimination of southern Italians was being temporarily hidden under wider race relations and different color lines.

Finally, the essay ties and interprets the connections between specific phenomena concerning race in the Thirties with the haunting ghosts of race in contemporary Italy (anti-migrant racism and the presence of second generation migrants), thus trying to untangle some of the relations that, in Italian colonial modernity, live in that confusing location where hybridity shows that similarities are stronger than differences and whiteness is mainly the effect of white washing processes.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2015.i6.298


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