From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Senza distinzione di razza? Razzismo in controluce nel discorso pubblico italiano tra anni Cinquanta e anni Settanta

Valeria Deplano


No race discrimination? Racism in Italian public discourse, 1950s-1960s. The hegemonic narrative developed during the post-war period described Italy as an inclusive country, where ‘racism’ concerned only the relationships between people from the North and the South of Italy. Anti-black racism seemed to (re)emerge at the end of the 20th century, when Italy was reached by an increasing number of migrants, perceived as a danger by the national community. On the contrary, this article conceives racism as a cultural, deep-rooted construction that does not follow the timing of institutional history. For this reason it states the importance for historians to focus their attention on ‘race’ in order to discuss the representation of Italians as anti-racist people since 1945. The article reads against the grain some journalistic sources from the 50s to the 70s (sources that contributed to shape and spread the hegemonic discourse), showing the discursive devices used to describe African people, and highlighting how they perpetuated the racialization processes inherited from the colonial period, enforcing social differences and hierarchies of power which forced migrants into a subaltern position. It shows also how the historical narration changes if we include previously ignored events and people, for example African people in post-war Italy, whose stories reached the public opinion only on specific occasions.




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