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BARRERA, G., 2003,“Mussolini’s Colonial Race Laws and State-Settlers Relations in AOI (1935-41)”, in Journal of Modern Italian Studies, VIII, 3.
BARRERA, G., 2002, “Patrilinearità, razza e identità: l’educazione degli italo-eritrei durante il colonialismo italiano (1885-1934)”, in Quaderni storici, 109, anno XXXVII, fascicolo 1.
BARRERA, G., 1996,Dangerous Liaisons: Colonial Concubinage in Eritrea (1890-1941), Evanston (IL), Northwestern University. Program of African Studies (Working Paper Series).
BHABHA, H. K., 1994, The Location of Culture, London, Routledge.
BURKE, P. (ed.), 1991, New Perspectives on Historical Writing, Cambridge, Polity Press.
COOPER, F., Stoler, A. L. (eds.), 1997, Tensions of Empire. Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, Berkeley, University of California Press.
DEL BOCA, A., 1976, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale. Dall’Unità alla marcia su Roma, Roma-Bari, Laterza.
DEL BOCA, A., 1976, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale. La conquista dell’Impero, Roma-Bari, Laterza.
DEL BOCA, A., 1984, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale. Nostalgia delle colonie, Roma-Bari, Laterza.
GINZBURG, C. and Poni, C., 1981, “La micro-histoire”, in Le Débat, 17, 133-137.
GOGLIA, L., Grassi, F., 1993, Il colonialismo italiano da Adua all’Impero, Roma-Bari, Laterza.
GRAMSCI, A., 2005, La questione meridionale, a cura di Franco De Felice e Valentino Parlato, Roma, Editori Riuniti.
IYOB, R., 2005, “Madamismo and Beyond: The Construction of Eritrean Women”, in Ben-Ghiat, R, Fuller, M. (eds.), Italian Colonialism, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
JEWSIEWICKI, B., 2004, “Mémoires historiques et représentation des nouvelles nations en Afrique”, in Triulzi, A., Ercolessi, M. C. eds.), State, Power, and New Postcolonial Actors in Postcolonial Africa, Milano, Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.
LABANCA, N., 2000 (1994), Storia dell’Italia coloniale, Milano, Fenice.
LABANCA, N., 2001, Posti al sole. Diari e memorie di vita e di lavoro dalle colonie d’Africa, Rovereto, Museo storico italiano della guerra.
LABANCA, N., 2002, Oltremare. Storia dell’espansione coloniale italiana, Bologna, il Mulino.
LE HOUÉROU, F., 1994, L’épopée des soldats de Mussolini en Abyssinie (1936-1938). Les « Ensablés », Paris, L’Harmattan.
LEVI, G., 1991, On Microhistory, in Burke, P. (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing, Cambridge, Polity Press.
LEYDESDORFF, S., Passerini, L., Thomson, P. (eds.), 1996, Gender and Memory, New York, Oxford University Press.
NORA, P., 1984, “Entre Mémoire et Histoire”, in Nora, P. (ed.) Les lieux de mémoire I. La République, Gallimard, Paris.
POUCHEPADASS, J., 2000, “Les Subaltern Studies, ou la critique postcoloniale de la modernité”, in L’Homme, 156.
SÒRGONI, B., 1998, Parole e corpi. Antropologia, discorso giuridico e politiche sessuali interrazziali nella colonia Eritrea (1890-1941),Napoli, Liguori.
SÒRGONI, B., 2001, Etnografia e colonialismo. L’Eritrea e l’Etiopia di Alberto Pollera (1873-1939), Torino, Bollati Boringhieri.
STOLER, A. L., 1991, “Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power. Gender, Race, and Morality in Colonial Asia.” in Micaela di Leonardo (ed.), Gender at the Crossroads of Knowledge. Feminist Anthropology in the Postmodern Era, Berkeley, University of California Press.
STOLER, A. L., 2002, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power. Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, Berkeley, University of California Press.
STURANI, E., 1995, “Le cartoline: alcune avvertenze per l’uso”, in Triulzi, A. (ed.), Fotografia e storia dell’Africa, Atti del convegno Internazionale Napoli-Roma 9-11 settembre 1992, Napoli, I.U.O.
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TRIULZI, A., 2002, “Premessa”, in Quaderni storici, 109, XXXVII, fascicolo 1.
WILDENTHAL, L., 1997, “Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the German Colonial Empire”, in Cooper, F., Stoler, A. L. (eds.) Tensions of Empire. Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, Berkeley, University of California Press.
i Four of them (Vitale, Giuseppe, Mosé, and Rina) live in Italy, in Rome or Terni, while Annunziata recently moved to Germany.
ii At the beginning of the 1980s Carlo Ginzburg and Carlo Poni already wrote: “The closer and closer relationship that has been tying history and anthropology is all together the symptom and the tool of this new awareness. […] Only anthropology impregnated with history or, likewise, history impregnated with anthropology, will be able to rethink the thousands-years adventure of Homo sapiens species”. Cf. Ginzburg, C. and Poni, C., 1981, “La micro-histoire”, in Le Débat, 17, 133-134.
iii Fifteen years ago, Peter Burke reminded us that, while history had been traditionally concerned with politics as it had been national and international rather than local, the new history had come to be concerned with virtually every human activity. The issue of Burke’s notion of cultural relativism won’t be discussed or criticized here as it is not the object of this article, but his following statements seem quite relevant to this context: “The philosophical foundation of the new history is the idea that reality is socially or culturally constituted. The sharing of this idea, or assumption, by many social historians and social anthropologists helps explain the recent convergence between these two disciplines, […]. This relativism also undermines the traditional distinction between what is central in history and what is peripheral”. Cf. Burke, P., 1991, “Overture: the New History”, in Burke, P. (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing, Cambridge, Polity Press, 3-4.
iv We won’t elaborate on the articulation of the notions of “memory” and “history” and their complex relationship. Pierre Nora wrote: “Memory, history: they are far from being synonymies, we are becoming aware that everything opposes them. Memory is life, always carried by living groups and, as such, constantly evolving. Memory is open to the dialectic between souvenir and amnesia, unaware of its following distortions, vulnerable to all utilizations and manipulations, susceptible of long abeyances and sudden revitalizations. History is the always problematic and incomplete reconstruction of what is no more. Memory is a phenomenon that is constantly present, a tie lived in the everlasting present; history is a representation of the past”. Cf. Nora, P., 1984, “Entre Mémoire et Histoire”, in Les lieux de mémoire I. La République, ed. by Nora P., Paris, Gallimard, XIX-XX.
v According to Giovanni Levi, “The question is, therefore, how to define the margins – however narrow they may be – of the freedom granted an individual by the interstices and contradictions of the normative systems which govern him”. Cf. Levi, G., 1991, “On Microhistory”, in New Perspectives on Historical Writing in Burke, P. (ed.), op. cit., 94-95.
vi In the 1990s Bhabha explained that: “Postcolonial criticism bears witness to the unequal and uneven forces of cultural representation involved in the contest for political and social authority within the modern world order. Postcolonial perspectives emerge from the colonial testimony of Third World countries and the discourses of ‘minorities’ within the geopolitical divisions of East and West, North and South”. Cf. Bhabha, H. K., 1994, The Location of Culture, Routledge, London, 171.
vii Introducing Subaltern Studies, Jacques Pouchepadass argues that many writers imperceptibly “move from the binary opposition elite/subalterns to the opposition Western modernity/native culture. They tend to re-establish as a whole the Precolonial for the sake of criticizing the Colonial, or ([…]) Minority and Marginality in the name of the opposition to the Nation-State which is the product of the independence movements and that in India is the incarnation of an oppressive political modernity that goes back to the ‘Lumières’ ideology”. Cf. Pouchepadass, J., 2000, “Les Subaltern Studies, ou la critique postcoloniale de la modernité”, in L’Homme, 156, 75.
viii The major storytellers have been Rina, Vitale, and Annunziata; I also met Giuseppe and Mosé a few times, but they provided some information only during a family gathering in Terni in 2002. The story of Lomi and Totò is actually the story of the parents of a very good friend of mine: Rina. Through her I also became close to her sister, Annunziata. Then I repeatedly met their three brothers (Vitale in particular) and their families. Since we are friends the story has been told to me during the years in several informal occasions. Nevertheless, some conversations, as I will indicate below, have been particularly relevant. There is the possibility that I gave more room to Rina and Annunziata and moreover, due to our friendship, addressing some “uncomfortable” questions might have been sometimes hard, thus influencing their answers (for example, as you will see, the controversial issue of their “marriage” took several years to be discussed in a less standardized and more complex way). On the other hand, it’s also true that the affective ties I have with these people and their story pushed me to keep working with them, even though in 2002 a first project in Roma 3 university didn’t work out, due the lack of founding.
ix As shown in the bibliography, I relied on serious contemporary historians and anthropologists, more than on old archival sources.
x Referring to today representation of Italian colonialism and to the risk of levelling the complexity of both the colonized and colonizing societies, historian Alessandro Triulzi suggests: “In other words it is a matter of providing the complex interlacement of relations between colonizers and colonized with its thick depth of complexity and with its operative fluidity that the historiography debate in Italy has long denied to it”. Cf. Triulzi, A., 2002, “Premessa”, in Quaderni storici, 109, anno XXXVII, fascicolo 1, 6.
xi Referring to the changing criteria by which European colonials defined themselves, Ann Laura Stoler states: “Assessments of civility and the cultural distinctions on which racial membership relied were measured less by what people did in public than by how they conducted their private lives – with whom they cohabited, where they lived, what they ate, how they raised their children, what language they chose to speak to servants and family at home”. Cf. Stoler, A. L., 2002, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power. Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, Berkeley, University of California Press, 6.
xii Without focusing on transcultural essential gender differences, a book edited in 1996 by Leydesdorff, Passerini, and Thomson can be of interest to see how the question of gender difference in memory has been examined in oral history and other disciplines. Leydesdorff, S., Passerini, L., Thomson, P. (eds.), 2006, Gender and Memory, New York, Oxford University Press.
xiii Annunziata told me that family storytelling was mostly delivered by Totò when friends were coming by. She only lived with her parents in Ethiopia until the age of 6 and later on in Italy, when she was around the age of 20, for two or three years before they dyed: “At that age I didn’t realize how important these stories were. It’s a shame I never really had the chance to have a conversation with my parents as an adult”. Conversation with Annunziata on July 19th, 2006.
xiv Called the ventennio, the fascist period spans from the Marcia su Roma (March on Rome) in 1922 to 1943, when on July 25th Mussolini was removed from his position.
xv Referring to Italian “Anti-Amhara, pro-Muslims and pro-Oromo politics”, Le Houérou states that Italian colonial strategies were based on establishing new hierarchies of peoples: by empowering minority groups as Muslims and Oromo Italy meant to upset the local order. See Le Houérou, F., 1994, L’épopée des soldats de Mussolini en Abyssinie (1936-1938). Les « Ensablés », Paris, L’Harmattan, 90.
xvi Italy occupied Ethiopia from 1936 and 1941, invading the country from Eritrea and Somalia. The Campaign of Ethiopia was one of the noisiest and most clamorous fascist “adventures”; as a consequence in Rome on May 9th 1936 the Empire was officially proclaimed. Haile Selassie I left the country in 1936 and spent his five years of exile mainly in United Kingdom. During World War II, the country became a base and a theatre of military operations. Italian East Africa was surrounded by British territories and the Empire soon collapsed. Haile Selassie I returned to Ethiopia in 1941, after Italy's defeat by United Kingdom. The peace treaty was stipulated in 1947, even if later on Ethiopian rights of restitutions and reparations haven’t been always respected by Italian governments. Haile Selassie I was deposed in September 1974 and Ethiopia became a one-party communist state. See: Del Boca, A., 1976, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale. La conquista dell’Impero, Roma-Bari, Laterza; Del Boca, A., 1984, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale. Nostalgia delle colonie, Roma-Bari, Laterza; Labanca, N., 2000 (1994), Storia dell’Italia coloniale, Milano, Fenice; Trento, G., 2005, Una parola di granito. L’obelisco di Axum / Il significato di una riconsegna in “Nigrizia”, anno 123, 5.
xvii Italy joined II World War next to Germany in June 1940.
xviii Vitale always stresses the fact that Totò had very good relations with Africans; he also states that: “Totò became friend with his Kenyan guards in the detention camp where he was kept; so sometimes he managed to go to another camp to get cigarettes, extra food, etc.” Conversation with Vitale on July 30th, 2006.
xix Vitale states that “Totò entered Ethiopia with some Italian friends once Haile Selassie came back to Addis Ababa and declared that Italian individuals were not banned anymore and were allowed to live in the country”. Conversation with Vitale on July 27th, 2006.
xx The “Questione meridionale”, dealing with the problems of the Italian South, it has always been one of the most relevant issues in Italy. For more information, see the work of Antonio Gramsci and most specifically: Gramsci, A., 2005, La questione meridionale, a cura di Franco De Felice e Valentino Parlato, Roma, Editori Riuniti.
xxi Italians occupied Ethiopia for five years, but stayed in Eritrea more then fifty years. In 1869, the Rubbattino Shipping Company acquired the port of Assab and in 1882, the Italian government took over Assab. In 1885, Italy occupied Massawa and started heading inland, formally establishing the colony named Eritrea on January 1, 1890. From 1989 to 1960 also Somalia has been alternately and in different forms occupied by Italians. See: Barrera, G., 1996, Dangerous Liaisons: Colonial Concubinage in Eritrea (1890-1941), Evanston, Northwestern University, Program of African Studies (Working Paper Series); Del Boca, A., Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale. Dall’Unità alla marcia su Roma.
xxii Italian colonial possessions took the name of “Empire” from May 9th, 1936, after the conquest of Ethiopia and until 1941.
xxiii Italians living in Ethiopia were soldiers, officials, workers and laborers, small traders, clerks, but not peasants; cf. Labanca, N., Storia dell’Italia coloniale, 49. “In Ethiopia the Italian community was created from scratch in a matter of months; in 1940, it totalled 62.000, military personnel excluded”. Cf. Barrera, G., 2003, “Mussolini’s Colonial Race Laws and State-Settlers Relations in AOI (1935-41)”, in Journal of Modern Italian Studies, VIII, 3, 428.
xxiv ibid,. 431. To study the social background of Italians in the Horn, see also: Del Boca, A., Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale. La conquista dell’Impero; Labanca, N., 2001, Posti al sole. Diari e memorie di vita e di lavoro dall’Africa italiana, Roverto, Museo storico italiano della guerra; Labanca, N., 2002, Oltremare. Storia dell’espansione coloniale italiana, Bologna, il Mulono; Le Houérou, F., op. cit.
xxv Barrera, G., 1996, op. cit., 4; Iyob, R., 2005, “Madamismo and Beyond: The Construction of Eritrean Women” in Italian Colonialism, in Ben Ghiat, R., Fuller, M. (eds.), Italian Colonialism, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 237.
xxvi “Controlling the media almost in full, from 1928 on the regime undertook a large campaign in favour of the colonies. It also entailed the daily press and used the radio system that between 1929 and 1934 faced a wide development, thanks to the setting of new and longer broadcasting programs and channels”. Cf. Del Boca, A., Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale. La conquista dell’Impero, 22.
xxvii “Sifting through the photographic archive of the Istituto Italo-Africano in Rome during a brief visit in 1990, I was struck by the importance given to the colonized Eritrean woman. […] / The commercialization and objectification of women in the colonial and postcolonial eras begs the question of the identity of these women. Until now these images of women have been dismissed as ‘victims’ of Italian colonialism”. Cf. Iyob, R., loc. cit., 234-235. To study the controversial political use of images of young women in Twentieth Century Eritrea see the same article by Ruth Iyob.
xxviii Sturani, E., 1995, “Le cartoline: alcune avvertenze per l’uso”, in Triulzi, A. (ed.) Fotografia e storia dell’Africa, Atti del convegno Internazionale Napoli-Roma 9-11 settembre 1992, Napoli, I.U.O.
xxix Stoler, A. L., op. cit.
xxx The majority of Italians abandoned their children and, most of all, their mothers in Africa, but a certain number of them played in full their role of father, especially those who lived steadily in the colonies. The relationships with their African partners were in most cases marked by colonialistic patterns though. Marriages were extremely rare, usually they were only religious and often officiated when the partner was about to die, as the case of Chidan and Alberto Pollera. See: Barrera, G., 2002, “Patrilinearità, razza e identità: l’educazione degli italo-eritrei durante il colonialismo italiano (1885-1934)”, in Quaderni storici, 109, anno XXXVII, fascicolo 1; Sòrgoni, B., 2001, Etnografia e colonialismo. L’Eritrea e l’Etiopia di Alberto Pollera (1873-1939), Torino, Bollati Boringhieri.
xxxi Goglia, L., Grassi, F., 1993, Il colonialismo italiano da Adua all’Impero, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 203. However Labanca asks if between fascist colonialism and the previous colonialism of the “Italia liberale” continuities or differences prevailed. Cf. Labanca, N., Storia dell’Italia coloniale, 56.
xxxii Sòrgoni, B. 1998, Parole e corpi. Antropologia, discorso giuridico e politiche sessuali interrazziali nella colonia Eritrea (1890-1941), Napoli, Liguori, 141.
xxxiii Giulia Barrera wonders “How was the model colonist envisioned by Mussolini – the hard-working, right-minded, dignified colonist – to be reconciled with the thug who, instigated by party authorities, ravaged Addis Ababa?” Cf. Barrera, G., “Mussolini’s Colonial Race Laws”, 436.
xxxiv Segregation on race basis was not peculiar to the Italian fascist rule. For instance in three German colonies “mixed” marriage was banned as early as the beginning of the Twentieth Century through administrative decrees that inserted “race” as a category into citizenship. These bans were issued by the colonial and not by the metropolitan power and infringed on German men right to pass on citizenship to their wives and children; for these and other reasons many jurists considered the bans illegal (both Germany and Italy have a jus sanguinis attitude toward citizenship). On the contrary in the post-1935 Italian case the central power and Mussolini himself played a substantial role in the regulation on race basis of relations between colonizers and colonized. See: ibid, 3; Wildenthal, L., 1997, “Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the German Colonial Empire”, in Cooper, F., Stoler, A. L. (eds.) Tensions of Empire. Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, Berkeley, University of California Press.
xxxv The first Italian race law (R.D. 880/1937) made ‘relations of a conjugal nature’ between a citizen and a colonial subject of Italian East Africa (and madamato in particular) a crime, punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Marriage between Italian and colonial citizens was banned on November 17th, 1938 (R.D. 1728/1938). In 1939 the ‘Penal sanctions for the defence of racial prestige against the natives of Italian Africa’ (L. 1004/1939) provided a comprehensive legal framework for racial segregation and colonial life was fully segregated up to the point that in 1940 a law forbade to Italian fathers to pass on their citizenship to their Africa-Italian children. See: Barrera, G., “Mussolini’s Colonial Race Laws”, 425-443; Le Houérou, F., op. cit., p. 94; Sòrgoni, B., Etnografia e colonialismo, 211.
xxxvi What Giulia Barrera writes concerning the large number of Italians who had Eritrean concubines may also be applied to the Ethiopian context: “We do not know precisely how many because reliable figures are difficult to find, but colonial sources overwhelmingly suggest that mixed-race unions were very common. As well, the Fascists’ vociferous campaign in the late 1930s against mixed-race unions and miscegenation (métissage) indirectly attests to the magnitude of the size and social impact of the phenomenon. Another piece of indirect evidence is the large number of mixed-race children born at the time. […] Though declared illegal, the madamato certainly did not disappear. It might have changed in nature and/or practice, but we cannot be sure. Much evidence suggests that the number of cases of madamato actually rose after it was banned […] reminding us that the gap between governmental policies and actual behaviours can be considerable”. Cf. Barrera, G., op. cit., 1 and 3.
xxxvii ibid., 14; Le Houérou, F., op. cit., 100-101.
xxxviii Barrera, G., “Patrilinearità, razza e identità”.
xxxix Conversation with Vitale on July 27th, 2006.
xl I found it difficult to investigate how Ethiopian women related to Italian men, but, as far as Italians were concerned, we should keep in mind that before the 1960s and the major industrialization of the country, Italy was a sexually repressed society and in most contexts, sexual relations outside the marriage were extremely dangerous and disgraceful for women, as proven by the very difficult social and economical position of the so called “ragazze madri” (unmarried young mothers). Moreover, in terms of long-term relationships dynamics, generally speaking, Italian men tend to have a sort of “childish” propensity for emotionally depending on women.
xli As stated by the first sentence of court (Addis Ababa, September 9th, 1937) reported by Barbara Sòrgoni. To be convicted all or some of the following aspects had to be involved: a steady relationship, non-paid regular sexual intercourses, sharing of food and home, gifts, affectio maritalis, jealousy and exclusivity, and more. See: Sòrgoni, B., Parole e corpi, 234-235.
xlii Conversation with Annunziata on July 19th, 2006.
xliii Conversation with Vitale on July 27th, 2006.
xliv Who was this woman’s role more similar to: a housekeeper or a madama?
xlv Mentalities and life styles do not change from one day to another. For instance, during a conversation over the phone on July 13th 2006, Guilia Barrera told me that in the 1950s in postcolonial Eritrea, racial urban barriers (such as segregated neighbours, bars, etc.) got stronger in comparison with the colonial period. This phenomenon could be explained by a weakening of collective identities, which might have given rise to newly emphasized spatial segregations.
xlvi Conversation with Rina on July 16th, 2006.
xlvii Conversation with Rina on July 16th, 2006.
xlviii Conversation with Annunziata on July 19th, 2006.
xlix Rina remembers that they met several Ethiopian-Italians who had not been recognised as children by their Italian fathers. Moreover, once in Italy Lomi and their children didn’t have to deal with the existence of an Italian wife and her children previously left in Italy by the father. Annunziata remembers the case of Mario and Franco, whose father managed to make them move back to Italy with him (most likely by forcing his Italian wife to declare that she was their mother). Once back in his village, this man moved in with his two Ethiopian-Italian sons, while his wife and her children lived somewhere else in the same village; then he almost never went out because he felt too guilty and didn’t want people to look at him. Conversations with Rina and Annunziata in July 2006.
l Even if the more I study Lomi and Totò “love story”, the less I look at it as an exception, I still consider pertinent what Carlo Ginzburg and Carlo Poni wrote more that twenty years ago: “But the ‘normal exception’ can have another meaning. If sources constantly conceal and/or deform social reality of subaltern classes, a really exceptional document (meaning statistically rare) can reveal mach more than thousand stereotyped ones. […], marginal cases question the old paradigm and at the same time they can be of help to crate a new, richer, and better articulated one. They work then as traces or indicators of a hidden reality which in general cannot be grasped through documentation”. Cf. Ginzburg, C. and Poni, C., loc. cit., 136.
li Conversation with Abebe Zegeye on May 24th, 2006.
lii These details can match the very contradictory way in which the Italian men interviewed in Ethiopia by Le Houérou present their relationships with Ethiopian women and the feelings they have. However the general portray provided by Le Houérou doesn’t seem to be exhaustive and doesn’t go deep into relationships dynamics. See: Le Houérou, F., op. cit.
liii As told me by Annunziata on July 19th 2006, Totò would sometimes make fun of Lomi in friendly terms saying that at first she was unable to have children, but she finally made it. Totò was assuming that the woman, and not the man, was in those days sterile and then “guilty”.
liv Conversation with Annunziata on July 19th, 2006. Annunziata’s clear explanation perfectly matches with other similar versions already provided by the others.
lv Totò couldn’t be married in Italy, as proven by the fact that from 1956 on he registered all his children at the Italian Embassy in Ethiopia. At that time the Italian civil code forbade to married Italian men to acknowledge the children had with other women outside the marriage, while married.
lvi From 1912 on, only children of Italian men could be considered Italian citizens from their birth. On the contrary, only in the 1970s Italian female citizens who had children with non-Italian men have been allowed to pass on Italian citizenship to their children; Italian men could also finally acknowledge children that were born outside their marriage.
lvii Recently, Rina told me that only she and Vitale received both the Catholic and the Orthodox baptism, while the others were only Catholic. Conversation with Rina on July 28th, 2006.
lviii Giuliana Fuortes was born in Naples in 1920. Her parents always considered themselves anti-fascist. Since she is my aunt, I had the opportunity to repeatedly ask her various questions in July 2006. She also recalls that she was particularly shocked by the promulgation of racial laws at the end of the Thirties: “That’s when I started to became sceptical about the regime”.
lix Ubax Cristina Ali Farah, who was raised in the Seventies in Somalia by her Italian mother and her Somali father, told me in April 2002 that “a lot of African-Italians who grew up in East Africa – like I did – ended up showing right wing sympathies, especially those who have an Italian father”.
lx At the time of the Italian-Ethiopian war more than 50 000 unemployed men went to Italian East Africa, particularly in Eritrea, to work in street constructions and in other public works. Cf. Barrera, G., op. cit., 3.
lxi Conversation with Annunziata on July 19th, 2006.
lxii Conversation with Rina on July 29th 2006.
lxiii Conversation with Vitale on July 27th 2006.
lxiv Conversation with Annunziata on July 19th, 2006.
lxv As reported to me by Rina during a conversation in Rome in April 2002.
lxvi Once in Italy it was very difficult for Totò to get a small pension. Giuseppe told me in 2002 during a family gathering: “He did a lot, but when he came to Italy he didn’t get anything back!”
lxvii Conversation with Rina on July 29th 2006.
lxviii Rina and Annunziata use the term “mulatto” without any denigrating shade. On the contrary Giulia Barrera, referring to Italian-Eritreans, asserted: “The terms ‘meticcio’ (métis) or, even worse, ‘mulatto’ are perceived by them as offensive and we know that in the 1920s it was already like that”. Cf. Barrera, G., “Patrilinearità, razza e identità”, 22.
lxix What Rina states does not contradict the description of the Italian-Eritreans status as extensively presented by Giulia Barrera in ibid.
lxx Conversation with Rina in April 2002.
lxxi Conversation with Annunziata on July 19th, 2006.
lxxii Denis Diandwengila, who moved from Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) to Italy in the 1980s, suggests: “In Italy for black African women is easier to be welcome than for us. People are more suspicious of men than of women” (Conversation with Denis in 2002). Could we say that the attitude Dindwengila describes is somehow the consequence of how African women have been portrayed and of how men related to them in the Italian colonial period?
lxxiii Conversation with Vitale on July 27th, 2006.
lxxiv Conversation with Rina on July 29th 2006.
lxxv As reported during our conversation over the telephone by Giulia Barrera on July 13th 2006, and as can be also noticed on a daily base if one is in touch with African-Italians.
lxxvi All of them, except Rina, got married to “white” Europeans; at the same time they make sure they keep close legacies with Africans and with people of African descend.Haut de page