New Course Probes Missing Critique of Race in Italian Culture
St. Jerome’s University’s (SJU) Italian Studies is offering a new course in the upcoming winter term that probes the issue of race in Italy’s colonial past, and the resulting widespread racial issue of Afrophobia. The ITALST 296 course, “Mediterranean Crossings: The Emergence of Black Italy”, being taught by SJU’s Assistant Professor, Roberta Cauchi-Santoro, will unpack the concept of a Mediterranean Italy and the narratives that have subverted, occulted, minimized and/or even denied Italian colonialism and its legacy.
“Afrophobia has been widespread in Italian popular culture, cinema and even academic spheres palpably present in subdued, indirect ways, as late as in the Italian society of the end of the 1960s,” noted Cauchi-Santoro. “This colonial mindset steadily resurfaced in increasingly violent, aggressive manifestations from the 1990s onwards with the intensification of mass migrations crisscrossing from Mediterranean southern to northern shores. These influxes eventually gave birth to a new generation of born and bred Italians who were Black and/or of African descent and who steadfastly faced exclusion due to racial motives.”
In “Mediterranean Crossings: The Emergence of Black Italy”, Cauchi-Santoro will speak to the arduous struggle of contemporary Afro/Black Italians, who continue to face palpable Afrophobia in Italy. Against this backdrop, it becomes clear that the Afrophobia that has increasingly characterized Italian society in the last three decades had been lying semi-dormant for over a century.
“Today Mediterranean migratory crossings continue unabated and born-and-bred Black Italians resume everyday their quotidian struggle to become visible and heard in contemporary Italian society,” added Cauchi-Santoro. “In this course we also learn how Afro/Black Italians are showcasing their Italian-ness, particularly through access to the web. In the midst of a highly charged and discriminatory social context we discover emerging Afro/Black-Italian writers, artists, musicians, and film directors who are making this new portion of Italy visible and who speak about what it means to be part of Italy today.”
To find out more about the new “Mediterranean Crossings: The Emergence of Black Italy” course being taught in person on the St. Jerome’s campus during the winter 2022 term, please use this link to contact Roberta Cauchi-Santoro directly.