From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

“Ricordati di non dimenticare.” Memorie dell’Africa Orientale Italiana nelle ricerche artistiche attuali

Aurora Roscini Vitali


“Just remember not to forget”: memories of Italian East Africa in current artistic research. Since the end of colonialism, Italy’s colonial past has gone through different processes of non-recognition, banalization, and removal. However, its documentary, historical, and even ideological legacy continues to have a strong impact on the present. Current artistic research does not only try to contain the possibilities of any nationalistic revanchism, but also explores the complex mechanisms that affect our way of remembering, archiving and, therefore, thinking. As Jacques Derrida said, we have to face our spectres. Therefore, photographs and evidence from the 1920s and 1930s, colonial footages, postcards and graphic materials, letters and private memories have been used by several artists as a reference point for the building of a dense ‘postcolonial’ image and a rereading that deconstructs canonical topographies and times. This paper aims to individuate some significant works realized in the last few years, with the intent to highlight the fluid condition between what we have been and what we are. A special focus is on the visual and experimental ‘remembrance’ of Italian East Africa, that is to say the first place of Italian domination at the end of the nineteenth century and the final scenario for Mussolini’s imperial ambitions. Works and thoughts by Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani, Alessandra Ferrini, Bridget Baker, Peter Friedl, InvernoMuto, Mahony Collective and Quincy Gario show many problematic aspects of the rooted and changing ‘colonial approach’ that has informed Italy’s socio-cultural imaginary.


postcolonial, Italian Eastern Africa, Fascism, forgetting, durée, colonial memories



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