Margot’s Post on Lucia Re’s article


I loved this article! It discussed all of the things that interest me about Italian Colonialism: the way colonialism played into race relations inItalyand the treatment and view of women.

One of my favorite lines from the article was “Woman is more primitive and less evolved than man because she has remained essentially the captive of her physical instincts and body, “schiavadelsuo sesso,” and thus still incapable of thinking abstractly.” So this was the view of the Fascist leading men, and then women who called themselves feminist women, started siding with these men.

Later on in the article, Re talks about the way Sibilla Aleramo set aside her feminist ambitions to support the war inLibya. On page 22 Re argues that Aleramo supported the southern question because of the way she describes southern men as weak, and excessively sexual. “What is striking about Aleramo’s novel is the way in which this radicalization of the South coexists with the author’s explicit feminism and socialism.”

In section 7 of the article, Re talks about feminist women becoming fascists, she refers to “Fascist feminism in the 1920s.” To me, that sounds like a contradiction. How can a feminist be fascist? How could a woman like Teresa Labriola who was once a leading suffragist say that “the woman’s true and higher mission was to embrace their racial role as mothers and be entirely devoted to the future of the Italian stripe and nation.

Italians (and Everyone Else) and the Invention of Race

What struck me about this article’s discussion of the formation of racial ideas in Italy was how similar that narrative is to our own in the United States, and to almost every other narrative of race formation that I am familiar with. Though exact details and important figures and events differ, the story is almost the same. Racism as a catalyst for unification, the interconnectivity of race and gender roles, and the concept of race as something that does not exist alone, but exists only in opposition to a weakly defined “other” – none of these ideas or themes are new.

However, something that didn’t ring quite as familiar was the heavy reliance on literature to help construct the racial narrative. Poets and authors such as Marinetti, Morasso, and d’Annunzio played a much larger role in crafting the idea of what it means to be Italian than I have seen in any other culture, and I think that, in a way, that is due to the fact that a huge part of Italianness was the artistic culture.

I also thought the idea of the Italian “inferiority complex” contributing to Italian racism was interesting, but it had actually been something that I had been thinking about as well. In order to assert themselves as being on the same level as other Europeans, Italians had to define themselves in opposition to someone “worse.”

Lucia Re

What I appreciated most about this article was the evidence used to support most of the arguments Re made. For example, in the section of Race and Identity, Re’s Argues that the libya campaign was the first racist war and it’s consensus was the result of literary creations.  Her support was the article “L’ora virile” in Il Marzocco which asked women to sacrifice for the unity of Italy. In regards to this topic of sacrific, I found the sentence “by adhering to the unifying notion of a collective identity that necessarily sets the Italian ‘race’ in opposition to other races, women and, as we shall see, other disenfranchised or alienated groups ‘discover’ … An imaginary sense of belonging and commonality that makes the lack of equal political rights, and even the principle of representation, seem secondary and unimportant.” I appreciate the acknowledgement of the lack of resistance from Italian women regarding their gender role. I feel as thought other articles we’ve read have not articulated this lack of participation so concisely.

My favorite moment in the article, however, which was also highly supported, was the resistance of Arab and Berber fighters who retaliated against Italian troops for their sexual abuses against women. Furthermore, I appreciate how this ultimately created n sense of unity for the Libyans and began the process of developing their national identity.

Ultimately, I just found the ability to support her arguments with facts to be the best part of this artiicle. I feel as though so many of our previous articles are highly opintionated and have comparatively low evidence, which helped me understand some of the origins for the  misunderstood or overlooked “contradictions” in our previous articles.