Postwar Italian historiography tended for decades to exclude colonialism from national history, and the country largely forgot its colonial past. The interconnections between the academic schools and anthropological scholarly theories that focused on the Horn of Africa during Italian colonialism and twentieth century Italian literary and cinematic representations of the Horn and the Red Sea have been understudied and underestimated. This article will argue that during Italian colonialism, Italy and the Horn of Africa were interconnected through the Mediterranean and Red Sea by scholarly, literary, cultural, religious, and imaginary links that contributed to the construction of a “Mediterranean Africa,” based on genetic continuities and the legacies with Latin antiquity and ancient Roman values. Such baggage affected or was affected by the building of Italian-ness after the country’s unification, Italy’s self-representation, the country’s Southern question, and its articulation of “modernity.” As this article will show, the construction of “Mediterranean Africa” influenced the Italian literary and cinematic representations of Northeast Africa, throughout the 20th century; from the founder of Futurism—the Egypt born writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti—in the first four decades of the century, to the leftist writer and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, in the 1960s and 1970s. The problematic transnational links constructed between Italy, the Horn of Africa, and the Red Sea would also surface in the works of the most prominent film directors during Fascism, Alessandro Blasetti and Mario Camerini, and other important writers, like Giovanni Comisso, Ennio Flaiano and Giorgio Manganelli.


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pp. 273-307
Launched on MUSE
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