Italians and the invention of race (Lucia Re)


I liked this article very much (it seems like most of us did). The part on race studies  was the most interesting for me. A number of scientists helped shape the way race was represented. Lombroso’s “L’uomo bianco e l’uomo di colore was probably one of the most influential and gave a pseudo-scientific explanation for the superiority of whites. I found this link which is really interesting.  As I glanced through the pages I read a part in which he states that even the blood of blacks is different. He says that it coagulated immediately when drawn. Anthropologists today know that race is a social construct and that it’s impossible to determine a person’s “race” by blood or tissue samples.

I find it paradoxical that northern Europeans viewed Italians with the same prejudice that they used towards the Africans.  Sibilla Aleramo reference to Ferrero’s book in her novel Una donna surprised me.  In Prof. McMenamin’s class we read chapters of this book.  If the southern man who raped her was a different race (quasi orientale – keeping women secluded harem-style) it was her northern father who forced her to marry him. She was very attached to her father and her education was rather liberal for the day, as a matter of fact she was the first Italian woman to leave her husband and her son.

An excellent article that I will save and do research on many of the people she mentioned!

Link to digital copy of Lombroso’s book:


Italians and the Invention of Race

I really enjoyed this article, though I did find it to be extensive and, at times, a little repetitive. It focuses on many areas on which our past readings have focused. Those that stuck out in particular to me were those of the development of gender roles, specifically the role of women and their position of subordination to men. I also thought that it was really interesting the way in which the author describes this desperate attempt to define and enforce a national and racial Italian identity. It is interesting how important it was to have a racial and national identity with which Italians could connect, even at the cost of the racism it encouraged.

I really like that the author connects these themes and analyzes them with the use of examples in literature. I also found section 4 very interesting. The author goes in depth to explain the way in which religion had a place in the process of colonization, and how the racial and social segregations that defined their colonization in Africa came to include religious segregation.

Lucia Re Article

I really liked this article because it was seemed to me to be a culmination of the entire course and what we had talked about in relation to Italian colonialism. One part I found particularly interesting was the poems by d’Annunzio, “Canzoni d’Oltremare.” The “Canzone del sangue” caught my attention because of its religious imagery and the relationship to justifying Italian cruelty and torture of Arabs as a Holy War. These poems were published on the front page of one of the most important news papers in Italy, were interesting as propaganda because I had researched and studied propaganda for children earlier with Mical. This section also likens the Italian Colonization to the Crusades, by uniting the Arabs and Turks as infidels and heathens of against Italy. Very interesting considering I am also in a history of the Crusades class. Overall a very interesting article. Though very long.

Thoughts on Lucia Re

This has so far been my favorite article. Although I really enjoyed the articles on gender and the mixed-race, something about this article really struck me. I think that the way it was written was very well and that the author was very clear and concise in their argument. It was hard to disagree with the author because of their great writing style and there were not many gaps in the argument which made it much easier to follow and understand as it was developed.

I thought that the thesis of this argument pointed out a huge paradox in the history of Italians as people. The article points out how and why racism is a fundamental building block of the Italian identity and how the Italians did not have a uniting identity before they became very racist (during colonial times). A common enemy is known to draw two people together and that seems to be the underlying reason between the estranged halves of Italy uniting against their colonies. This, however, makes the entire concept of the “Italian brava gente” seem void and as if Italians are only going to be considered brava gente toward each other; not as brava gente toward others, but brava gente in comparison to “others” (name: Africans).