Category Archives: History

Massacre? What Massacre? Anglo-American Responses to Monte Sole, Sept 29 – Oct 5 1944

Kevin Foster   Monash University

September 29 2017 marks the seventy-third anniversary of the largest single massacre of civilians on the Second World War’s western front. Over the long wet weekend from Friday 29 September 1944 until early the following week soldiers from Sturmbahnführer Walter Reder’s 16th Waffen-SS Reconnaissance Battalion, supported by other German troops, were given the task of clearing the partisans from the whole of the Monte Sole massif, the hills sandwiched between the Reno and Setta rivers, where the Gothic Line ran through the mountains south of Bologna. Fascist spies had confirmed that the partisan group, the Stella Rossa, which had been fighting a running battle with the Germans for weeks, was concentrated on the slopes around Monte Sole. The German commander, Kesselring, claimed that between 21 July and 25 September 1944, 624 Germans had been killed, 993 wounded and 872 missing in partisan operations.[1] Accordingly, at dawn on the 29th, the Germans began a wide encirclement, cutting off any means of escape. From the German perspective this particular rastrellamento was necessitated by the allies’ arrival at the Gothic Line. By 21 September US and South African troops were on the flanks of Monte Sole. Kesselring recognised the danger his troops faced. With the allies staring them in their faces they could not afford to have partisans nipping at their backs. Something had to be done.

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Religion, translation, Orientalists, purity and danger: ACIS in Prato

The keynote speakers at the ACIS Prato conference in July have very generously allowed us access to the videos of their presentations. Maurizio Isabella (QMUL), In the name of God: religion, popular mobilization and the culture wars of Italy and the Mediterranean, 1790-1860 ca, viewable here, underlines the essential role played by religion in both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary communities of mobilisation. Pierangela Diadori (Università per Stranieri di Siena), Multiculturality and inclusion through plurilingual public signs in contemporary Italy, linked here, offers a guide to the ways in which translation issues surface in public signs in multicultural Italy. Barbara Spackman (UC Berkeley) tracks the careers of two rackety but enterprising Italians, in Egypt by desertion or misadventure, in her Accidental Orientalists: Nineteenth-Century Italian Travelers in Egypt (here). And Nicholas Terpstra (University of Toronto) describes the forms of discipline and exclusion developed to ward off the dangers of impurity in Religious Refugees in the Early Modern Period:  Faith, Identity, and Purification in the Italian Context (here).  The abstracts for their talks can be found by reading on … Continue reading

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Recent Italian migration to Australia

Much has been written about Italian migration to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s but little is known about the new, young, skilled and educated Italian migrants of today. A new study, Australia’s New Wave of Italian Migration: Paradise or Illusion? (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2017), edited by Bruno Mascitelli & Riccardo Armillei, will be launched by Joe Lo Bianco (University of Melbourne) at CO.AS.IT., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton on Thursday 5 Oct 2017 at 6.30pm (free event: RSVP here). The book tackles many aspects of Italian migration, short-term and long-term, to Australia over the past twenty years, enabling us – thanks to the wide range of expertise among the contributors – to deepen our understanding of the scope and meaning of its multiple facets.      Continue reading

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Senses of Italy: Melbourne Masterclass

Scent, sight, sound, taste, touch: all Italian-style. They are covered in a programme of Thursday evening lectures, Melbourne Masterclass : Senses of Italy, at the University of Melbourne, 6.15 – 8.15pm, 5 October – 2 November 2017. The series starts with Catherine Kovesi on Renaissance perfumes (Venice as olfactory heaven) and Antonio Artese on scent and Aquaflor (5 Oct). Then Christopher Marshall looks at Artemisia Gentileschi’s correspondence (‘it’s all about the money’) and Mark Nicholls at Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy (12 Oct). John Weretka uses paintings and poetry to examine the instruments, repertoires and status of Renaissance musicians (upwardly mobile), followed by Malcolm Angelucci on poetics, music and madness in Italy before 1914 (19 Oct). John Hajek and Anthony White consider Futurism and food, the art and appetites of the antigrazioso (26 Oct). Finally Andrea Rizzi explores the ideas and images of Renaissance texts (‘tactile values’), and Carl Villis reveals some attributions and reattributions of Italian Renaissance art in the National Gallery of Victoria (2 Nov). Further details on the contributions, authors, venue and registration can be found here.

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Gender/sexuality/Italy, 4 (2017)

The latest issue of Gender/sexuality/Italy is online here. The themed section has the title ‘Girl Cultures in Italy from Early Modern to Late Capitalism‘ and has contributions on the representation and social construction of girlhood from the Renaissance to the present. Daniela Cavallaro, for example, draws on oral sources and archival material to examine the all-girl oratorio experience after 1945 and thus provide an account of this largely forgotten element in Italian women’s cultural history. Other contributions cover the contrasts between representations of girlhood in 16th and 17th biographies (Sienna Hopkins), two novels – La figlia prodiga (1967) and Bambine (1990) – by the Italo-Swiss writer Alice Ceresa (Viola Ardeni), Rita Pavone’s musicarelli (Stephanie Hotz), and the becoming-girl of late capitalism in Non è la Rai (Elisa Cuter).  And Danielle Hipkins, Romana Andò, Anna-Rita Ciccone and Laura Samani discuss aspects of girlhood conveyed in Italian film and other media.

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Diaspore italiane – Italy in Movement

The international three-conference project, Diaspore italiane: Italy in Movement, begins with its inaugural event, Living Transcultural Space, in Melbourne on 5-7 April 2018: the call for papers is now open. The other two conferences will be Transnationalism and Questions of Identity in New York (1-3 November 2018) and Between Immigration and Historical Amnesia in Genoa (27-29 June 2019).  Full details of the project can be found on its website. The Melbourne conference, taking place in a multicultural city with a large Italian community now entering the third generation, will explore the notion of transcultural living as a practice and an ideal. Transcultural contexts show cultural identities in motion as they develop in reciprocal contact, emerging as historical constructs carried forward by transcultural subjects. Two of the key themes addressed at the conference will therefore be how ideas of identities in motion compare with traditional ways of understanding cultural identities as fixed essences, typically anchored to notions of blood, land or divinity, and whether migration, diaspora and colonial studies are paradigmatic of emancipatory discourses and practices for the 21st century.

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The Greeks in Venice, 1498‒1600

The Hellenic Museum and Co.As.It. Museo Italiano will launch The Greeks of Venice, 1498‒1600: Immigration, Settlement, and Integration by Ersie C. Burke with a presentation by Carolyn James (Monash University) on Thursday 10 August 2017 at 6.30pm, Co.As.It. Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton (free event; RSVP here). Burke traces the history of Venice’s Greek population during the formative years between 1498 and 1600 when thousands left their homelands for Venice. She describes how Greeks established new communal and social networks, making the transition from outsiders to insiders (though not quite Venetians) in the context of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual Venice. This reconstruction of the history of the largest Christian ethnic minority in early modern Venice is interwoven with individual stories drawn from a great variety of sources – notarial documents, petitions, gov­ernment and church records, registries of marriages and deaths, and census data – held in Vene­tian church and state archives and in the Hellenic Institute of Venice.

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CFP: Sydney Postgraduate History Conference, 30 Nov – 1 Dec 2017

The University of Sydney Postgraduate History Conference is calling for paper proposals for the upcoming ‘The Past and the Curious: Re(viewing) History ‘ symposium, to be held on 30 November – 1 December 2017 in the Quadrangle at the University of Sydney. We welcome abstracts from honours students, postgraduates and early-career researchers involved in history, although they may take an interdisciplinary approach. Applicants from other states and universities are also encouraged to apply. Abstracts should be no more than 200 words accompanied by a 100 word bio, and are to be submitted via our website: a list of possible themes can be found there. The deadline for submissions is by close of business on 1 August 2017. Some funds are available for travel bursaries for honours and Masters students travelling from outside the Sydney area. We also warmly welcome those who simply wish to attend but ask that you go to the website and register for catering purposes. There is no registration fee. All inquiries here.

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Il futuro della fine …

The idea of the apocalypse usually binds together catastrophe and rebirth, the end and the transcendence of the end. The conviction that the destruction of one world is accompanied by the construction of another has thus ensured a longstanding link between the idea of the  apocalypse and messianic-utopian thought. The Department of Italian Studies at the University of Warsaw, in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute, is holding an international and interdisciplinary conference, Il futuro della fine. Narrazioni e rappresentazioni dell’apocalisse dal Novecento a oggi, on December 4- 5, 2017.  The key theme is the paradigm of the apocalypse and post-apocalypse in culture and the arts from the early 20th century to the present day. Keynote speakers include Carla Benedetti (University of Pisa), Carlo Bordoni (University of Florence), Michele Cometa (University of Palermo), Sergio Givone (University of Florence) and Carlo Pagetti (University of Milan). Proposals for papers in Italian, English or Polish (title, abstract and brief author bio) must be submitted to convegno.apocalisse@gmail.com by July 20, 2017. Further details of the contents and registration can be found here.
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Il 9 maggio

Oggi è il giorno per ricordare due persone molto diverse uccise il 9 maggio del 1978: Aldo Moro, ucciso dalle BR; Peppino Impastato, dalla mafia. Sulla vita e sulla morte di Moro è stato scritto moltissimo; un utile riassunto del dibattito nazionale e internazionale sulla natura e sulle cause della violenza politica che l’ha ucciso è di Giovanni Mario Ceci, Il terrorismo italiano. Storia di un dibattito (Carocci, 2013).  Gli scritti sulla mafia, meglio sulle mafie, sono ovviamente molto più numerosi. Adesso, su La Repubblica, c’è un blog, Mafie, a cura di Attilio Bolzoni, che oggi apre con una lettera di Tina Montinaro al marito, caposcorta di Giovanni Falcone e ucciso con lui 25 anni fa nella strage di Capaci. In questi ultimi anni il dibattito sulle mafie si è ampliato in seguito all’inchiesta ‘Mafia Capitale’ a Roma, dove i problemi della definizione e dell’evoluzione del fenomeno sono diventati di nuovo centrali. Questi temi sono analizzati con dovizia di dettagli nei dieci contributi all’ultimo fascicolo della rivista Meridiana (87, 2016) intitolato ‘Mafia Capitale’.

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