Submission of the articles: November 25th, 2021
Publication: December 2021
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KEY PAPERS: Miguel GOTOR, Enrica LISCIANI-PETRINI, Giuseppe LO CASTRO, Maurizio MAGGIANI.
What is Italy today? Does it make sense to think about Italy, 160 years after its constitution as a state? Can we reduce Italy to Italian citizenship? Which utopias and which dystopias intersect with, question and legitimate it?
Italy has a peculiar history. Unlike other countries, its identity far precedes its constitution as a state. More than a political conquest, it is the child of a slow process of sedimentation into a cultural image. In this sense, Italy is a country with different founders, the land of Dante and Petrarch, the product of literary and rhetorical images that intersect different ages, enduring their repercussions. Not least among these is the emptying of Italy’s meaning by nationalism and the tragedies of Fascism, which make it difficult, even today, to think of Italy as a homeland, in particular given that forms of fascism and nationalism have been given new life in the country.
Nevertheless, the question persists, especially as we continue to experience the gradual crumbling of state sovereignty: what about the view that Italians and non-Italians have of this country and its establishing or refounding myths? The Risorgimento, the very notion of which suggests a glorious past that must be recovered, was recently recalled by Mario Martone in the film Noi credevamo: a film that speaks – if we observe it closely – of the great, utopian hopes of an entire generation of twenty- and thirty-year-olds, mobilized for many years, following Garibaldi and Mazzini. To understand how the Italian Risorgimento was part of the revolutionary movements of the 1800s, it is sufficient to read Nievo’s “Confessions by an Italian”. Many decades later, the Risorgimento would be symbolically reborn through the Resistance (1943-1945), a term that recovers and gives new life to the defence of a national identity, now from the invasion of the foreigner and of Fascist tyrants, through the proposal of the renewed importance of national identity, based on republicanism, democracy, and antifascism.
What about these founding, utopian, political myths, in the face of the dismay provoked by the trauma of the strategy of tension throughout the 1970s and of the collateral, cultural effects of the “worst European bourgeoisie”, in the words of Pier Paolo Pasolini? If Italy, its unity, and its reconstruction recover the project of a deep social and ideal release, perhaps it makes sense to think anew, and from a new perspective, of an Italian history that has been betrayed, humiliated, made Fascist – an empty monument. Seen from the outside, Italy is still something, a symbolic form that cannot be entirely reduced to what Metternich called “a simple geographical expression”. Nevertheless, seen from the inside, from the perspective of Italians, Italy risks being reduced to something altogether small: a collection of egos and egoisms, local rivalries, “particulars”, as Guicciardini argues – no longer a nation, no longer a country, the target of unexpressed resentment against an inefficient state, or, quite the contrary, the homeland of neo-fascist sentiment.
Both the Risorgimento and the Resistance produced different forms of symbolic memory, in literature, music and cinema. These are forms that created, beyond the scholastic and official rhetoric, a unitary image and counter-narratives, including forms of anti-Risorgimento, with the revelations of its failures, the forms in which more or less hidden fascist temptations survive, up to the new image of the Resistance as a “civil war”, or to forms and slogans that imply the centrifugal incentives of regionalisms and secessionisms.
After all, Italy’s national identity was also based on divided territories and populations, a division that is made visible in particular phenomena: previously, in the inner migration from the South to the industrialized North; later, with the advent of mass production – still throughout the 1960s – of “orientalisms” that perpetuated these images, with the help of which, following unification, the Piedmontese generals legitimated their repression of the South; today, with the division between Italians and immigrants; without forgetting, finally, the radical divisions that characterize the nation’s political history, perhaps here more than in any other European nation: between fascism and antifascism, between monarchy and republic, and between demo-Christian (or Catholic) ideologies and communist (or laic) ones.
Still on the threshold of the new century, the old myths of Italy’s literary identity are disappearing, surviving only in the form of commercially beneficial national football and culinary icons, or in the form of collections of popular, national books, a last resort “canon” of resistance in which non-Italian European writers are increasingly inserted.
One hundred and sixty years after unification, what kinds of symbolic forms legitimate and support Italy? What values, and what practices? What is Italy’s geopolitical relation to the Mediterranean Sea? United in citizenship, do the “Italians” think about their country, or are they resigned to understanding it merely “from the outside”? What symbolic transformations are currently taking place with regard to its borders – apparently now just a line of defence from migrant “invasions” – in a country that was itself once the point of departure of significant migrations? Is the border now codified as a limit to sharing and as a sclerotic opposition to the symbolic forms of a new Global Age?
The articles in this issue may take a philosophical, literary, artistic, and/or political approach and may be written in English, Italian, Portuguese, French, or Spanish.
Timetable and Deadlines:
November 25th : submission of the article
November 25th – December 5th: peer-review process
December 10th: final submission of the article
December 10th – December 20th : editorial review
December 2021 / January 2022: publication