Marvelous Bodies
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Historically a source of emigrants to Northern Europe and the New World, Italy has rapidly become a preferred destination for immigrants from the global South. Life in the land of la dolce vita has not seemed so sweet recently, as Italy struggles with the cultural challenges caused by this surge in immigration. Marvelous Bodies by Vetri Nathan explores thirteen key full-length Italian films released between 1990 and 2010 that treat this remarkable moment of cultural role reversal through a plurality of styles. In it, Nathan argues that Italy sees itself as the quintessential internal Other of Western Europe, and that this subalternity directly influences its cinematic response to immigrants, Europe's external Others. In framing his case to understand Italy's cinematic response to immigrants, Nathan first explores some basic questions: Who exactly is the Other in Italy? Does Italy's own past partial alterity affect its present response to its newest subalterns? Drawing on Homi Bhabha's writings and Italian cinematic history, Nathan then posits the existence of marvelous bodies that are momentarily neither completely Italian nor completely immigrant. This ambivalence of forms extends to the films themselves, which tend to be generic hybrids. The persistent curious presence of marvelous bodies and a pervasive generic hybridity enact Italy's own chronic ambivalence that results from its presence at the cultural crossroads of the Mediterranean.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 août 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781612494890
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1950€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures
Editorial Board
Íñigo Sánchez Llama, Series Editor
Elena Coda
Paul B. Dixon
Patricia Hart
Deborah Houk Schocket
Gwen Kirkpatrick
Allen G. Wood
Howard Mancing, Consulting Editor
Floyd Merrell, Consulting Editor
Joyce L. Detzner, Production Editor
Susan Y. Clawson, Consulting Production Editor
Associate Editors
Jeanette Beer
Paul Benhamou
Willard Bohn
Thomas Broden
Gerard J. Brault
Mary Ann Caws
Glyn P. Norton
Allan H. Pasco
Gerald Prince
Roseann Runte
Ursula Tidd
Fiora A. Bassanese
Peter Carravetta
Benjamin Lawton
Franco Masciandaro
Anthony Julian Tamburri
Fred M. Clark
Marta Peixoto
Ricardo da Silveira Lobo Sternberg
Spanish and Spanish American
Maryellen Bieder
Catherine Connor
Ivy A. Corfis
Frederick A. de Armas
Edward Friedman
Charles Ganelin
David T. Gies
Roberto González Echevarría
David K. Herzberger
Emily Hicks
Djelal Kadir
Amy Kaminsky
Lucille Kerr
Howard Mancing
Floyd Merrell
Alberto Moreiras
Randolph D. Pope
Elżbieta Skłodowska
Marcia Stephenson
Mario Valdés
Italy’s New Migrant Cinema
Vetri Nathan
Purdue University Press West Lafayette, Indiana
Copyright ©2017 by Purdue University. All rights reserved.
The paper used in this book meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Printed in the United States of America
Template for interior design by Anita Noble;
template for cover by Heidi Branham.
Cover photo:
from the motion picture Terraferma directed by Emanuele Crialese, director of photography Fabio Cianchetti, copyright Cattleya Srl, Babe Films SAS,
France 2 Cinéma, by kind permission of Cattleya.
Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file at the Library of Congress
Detourism: Italy’s New Migrant Cinema
The Immigration Question
The Cultural Economy of Detourist Films
Multiculturalism vs. Hybridity
Framing Hybridity
Chapter One
Cultural Hybridity in Italy
Postcolonial Studies: A Search for Discrepant Experiences
Bhabha’s Hybridity
Italy’s Chronic Ambivalence—The Ghosts of Crises Past
The Centrality of Ambivalence
The Stereotype-as-Fetish
Stereotype-as-Fetish: The Importance of the Visible and of Repetition
The Menace of Mimicry and the Reinscription of the Stereotype (or, Of Ministers and Orangutans)
The Marvelous: Locating Hybridity on Screen
Postcolonial Studies and Italy—A Few Paths Forward
Chapter Two
Beyond Neorealism: The Cinematic Body-as-Nation
The Body-as-Nation
Neorealism Is Dead, Long Live Neorealism!
Containing Neorealism
The Centrality of Chronic Ambivalence in Post-Neorealist Film
The Realist and Humoristic Modes of Representation
Chapter Three
Ambivalent Geographies
Oneiric Spaces in Matteo Garrone’s Terra di mezzo
Meditalamerica: Lamerica and the Recuperation of Embodied History
The Politics of Sentimentality: Quando sei nato non puoi più nasconderti
The Haptical Mediterranean: Crialese’s Terraferma
Chapter Four
Ambivalent Desires: Desiring Gazes: Bhabha and Mulvey
The Volatile Sexual Politics of the Gaze: Pummarò and Lettere dal Sahara
Guess Who’s Coming for an Italian Dinner?—The Palatable Immigrant in Bianco e nero
Marriage, Bengali-Style: Vittorio Moroni’s Le ferie di Licu
Immigrant-as-Masquerade: Sugar-Coated Fantasy in Lezioni di cioccolato
Chapter Five
Ambivalent Moralities
Ambivalent Affect: Double-Visions in La sconosciuta and La doppia ora
Those Damn Earrings: Latent (?) Orientalism in Francesco Munzi’s Il resto della notte
Radio as Koran: The War on Terror in Mohsen Melliti’s Io, l’altro
Inside the Paradise of Marvelous Bodies
With a penetrating gaze, a frail Sicilian grandmother studied my 25-year-old grinning, sun-darkened Indian face. She was ageless, who knows how far beyond ninety. She asked me in perfect Sicilian dialect if, when I took a shower, the water in the bathtub turned brown.
I pretended not to understand her question as I tried to formulate an answer. A man standing next to her repeated her words—with a very apologetic look on his face—into standard Italian. I replied that that could indeed happen if I didn’t bathe for a week, but fortunately I showered every day. She then asked me if I was a soldier. I couldn’t understand why she could possibly think of me as one, although I took it as a wonderful compliment and glad that at least a practically blind person thought that I had a fit physique. The puzzled man witnessing this conversation asked her what she meant by that question. She promptly answered with another question, asking if I had come to liberate Sicily.
This brief and random interaction personally represented for me the marvelous coming together of colonial and postcolonial spaces, times, and bodies. The shriveled grandmother was not all that senile, or perhaps, her senility had allowed her to be brilliantly lucid and honest. She had mistaken me for an Indian soldier enlisted in the frontlines in one of the British companies that landed on the shores of Sicily in World War II. Her seemingly unambiguously racist question about the color of my skin could also be interpreted as a curious questioning of epidermal difference (if it is not even skin-deep, then perhaps it can indeed be washed away?). The postcolonial irruption of my non-white body had somehow instigated a psychological journey back to a time within this woman, a time when a Sicilian such as herself would have experienced the sight of such a body not in the context of contemporary immigration from the global South to Italy, but in that of the liberation of the Italian peninsula by the Allies. The lady’s question led me to discover and explore a part of Indian, Italian, and indeed, world history that has been mostly repressed or forgotten, including by myself: that of the role of innumerable Indian soldiers that shouldered a significant portion of the Allied war effort against the Axis powers throughout the world stage, often bearing the first brunt of the casualties.
Convinced that I was indeed a bonafide Allied soldier, and satisfied in her conviction, the nonagenarian smiled a wide toothless grin. She asked me if I was hungry, and insisted that I eat a double portion of the crostata that she had just baked.
* * *
Marvelous Bodies: Italy’s New Migrant Cinema explores liminal identities and their cinematic representations of both Italians and immigrants in contemporary Italy.
It is characters such as this Sicilian grandmother—fictional, real, or halfway in-between—who inspired me to write it.
This book traces its origins to my work in graduate school at Stanford University. Any expressions of gratitude must therefore begin with my dissertation advisor, Laura Wittman, who always demonstrated complete commitment to the project. Three other fabulous women advised me on my Ph.D. committee. In neighboring UC Berkeley, Barbara Spackman “adopted” me as one of her own right from the start. She was, and will be, a primary inspiration for much of my scholarly work. Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi urged me to not be afraid of coining new terms and owning my words, and Carolyn Springer constantly provided discerning reflections on my writing.
I am most grateful to my Editor, Elena Coda, for possessing that prized combination of scholarly acumen and collegiality, and for believing in this project right from the start. Several other scholars have helped me with insightful commentary and advice: Graziella Parati, Anthony Tamburri, Áine O’Healy, Derek Duncan, Christina Lombardi-Diop, Dana Renga, Fulvio Orsitto, Shelleen Greene, and Patrick Barron are some of the generous persons who assisted me in rethinking and refining during different stages of writing. My colleagues David Lummus and Sabrina Ferri deserve a shout-out not only for their professional support on how to survive in academia, but also for their steady friendship. In my current institution, I have been blessed by wonderful mentors in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures: Pratima Prasad, Alex Des Forges, and Claudia Esposito have all helped keep this project on track in many different ways. Fiora Bassanese assisted me continually by being such an outstanding colleague and guide.
The next round of thanks goes a little far back in time, but celebrates people who were no less influential in the creation of this book. During my schooling in India, Brother Anish John urged us to read books, dream, and think critically in a school system that actively dissuades and deadens all creativity. My English teacher during high school at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, Henry Thomas, taught me how to “stick to the words” in the text while analyzing literature—a seemingly simple piece of advice for which I am still grateful.

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