Until the latter part of the twentieth century, Italy's colonial past was a largely neglected topic in historical studies. Before then, only a handful of historians had shown any inclination for rescuing it from the dusty shelves of history, to which it had been relegated. With a few exceptions - most notably Angelo Del Boca - not many had the courage to venture into such treacherous territory. Colonial studies experienced a resurgence at the start of the new millennium, with remarkable progress in the quantity and quality of research, along with the wider public's newfound interest, as evidenced by an important conference held in Milan in 2006 and the large audience it attracted. This book addresses the relationship between national identity and colonial culture in Italy. The centrality of the construction of Otherness in the identity formation of the colonizer has been extensively reported, both in Europe and elsewhere, and the relevance of colonial heritage has also been attested. In Italy, however, this relationship has been neglected in existing historiography, and the colonial experience has traditionally been side-lined and marginalized. This volume is divided into several sections, each organized around an underlying theme. Within each theme, a broad array of topics and methodologies reflect the authors' approach in analysing the role of colonialism in the process of Italian identity formation. The rather heterogeneous works contained in this book, which attest the vitality and complexity of the debate on Italian colonialism, are clustered around one central theme: the reconstruction of un-comfortable memories, and a past that will not pass - which overlap the challenging present circumstances of rigidity, racism and rejection. As such, this book is a work of critical reflection, assembled using varied resources and scientific tools in order to shed light on a common past that is still so near and vivid in the minds of Italians, but at the same time so denied, distorted and forgotten in the collective memory.
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