Decolonizzare l'identità: Italia e America allo specchio

Nicoletta Pireddu


Issue 10 – Fall/Winter 2017
in the Cold War era. The play, in fact, assaults the US chauvinist and anti-communist ideology of the 1950s, and displays its consequences upon individuals and society. The post-war paranoia is acted out in the hidden corpse of Mr. Rosepettle, which Mme. Rosepettle preserves in her closet. The corpse, as a fetishistic object (for Mme. Rosepettle) and a source of fear and anxiety (for Jonathan), signals the impossibility, for the US of the time, to identify with tangible models and positive values (despite the materialistic ethos of the culture of the 1950s, as witness Mme. Rosepettle’s obsessive need for fun and self-gratification). On the contrary, only death and loss, as overhanging threats and macabre horizon of collective expectation, paradoxically provide the nation with a unifying sense of identification. The Cold War, as a conflict that was never directly waged or fought, but nevertheless informed American identity, politics and culture, thus functions as the ‘void center’ of the play. By instancing the lack (or the loss) as a site of affirmative identification, this fantasmatic war is what turns the play into an impossible tragedy.
Pireddu, Nicoletta
As it is often the case with countries where mass immigration is intense, ethnicity is one of the most evident expressions of identitary politics in the United States, and the community of Italian immigrants is undoubtedly characterized by a strong sense of ethnic identity. In fact, Italian American culture had to manage conflictual needs, and still needs to do so; on the one hand the search for a sense of belonging and participation to the adopted culture, on the other the struggle against mostly negative or diminishing stereotypes. Starting from recent and significant contributions to the debate, the essay analyzes the limits of categorizations, and calls for multiple perspectives in conceptualizing and representing Italian American culture in the context of diaspora and transcontinental immigration studies. Migration emerges thus as a model for mobility and flexibility, as a reinvention of the self and as a way of negotiating the other.

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