I am glad to announce an interesting conference that will take place in Rome the 24th and 25th of June 2010 at the British School. The organizer is prof. David Forgacs and confirmed speakers include John Agnew, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Charles Burdett, Derek Duncan, John Foot, Mia Fuller, Robert Gordon, and Alessandro Portelli.
"The aim of the conference is to identify and investigate the main rhetorical strategies and devices used in Italy since Unification to define ‘others’ and those used to resist such definitions. How have different types of discourse and media produced certain ‘marked’ categories of people – for example the poor, sexual deviants, prostitutes, colonized subjects, gypsies, illegal immigrants, persons with disability or with mental illness? What happens when some of these people react with their own discourses, counter-definitions and actions?
How do definitions of difference and otherness work across space, for instance by drawing boundaries or constructing oppositions: core/periphery, metropolitan centre/colony, straight/bent, inside/outside, high/low, clean/dirty? Why have maps, borders and coastline acquired such strong significance at certain historical moments? Participants are invited to examine these processes in written and printed texts, oral life stories, songs, photographs, radio and moving image media".
At this confrence, I will also present a paper on "Redefing Italian Spaces: Piazza Vittorio and Transcultural Aesthetics". An abstract follows:
In 2002 the Italian musician Mario Tronco and the film director Agostino Ferrente decided to create an orchestra in the multicultural area of Rome, known as the Esquilino quarter. This project came out of their desire to put together the multi-ethnical variety of musicians who were dwelling in that part of Rome. The result was truly extraordinary: a large group, constituted by almost twenty musicians from many different countries, formed the so-called “Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio” and was directed by Mario Tronco. The Orchestra is now internationally known and is currently on tour all over the world. In 2006 Agostino Ferrente made a documentary about the Orchestra telling the story of its constitution. This film received many awards and has been screened all over the world.
The same year, 2006, saw the publication of a novel by the “Italophone” Algerian writer Amara Lakhous entitled Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a P.zza Vittorio (“Clash of civilizations for an elevator in Piazza Vittorio”), which is again a story about the multicultural reality of Piazza Vittorio, an example, in fact, of the transformation of the Italian society and of the importance that Italian migrant literature is gradually gaining. Lakhous’ book reflects ironically and provocatively on the stereotypes and common places related to the idea of “otherness” within an Italian context.
Starting from these musical, cinematic and narrative examples, this paper aims at analysing how immigration in Italy is beginning to produce cultural performances that enter the larger context of popular culture, and to what extend these performances, as forms of aesthetic and cultural contributions, have been able to redefine Italian spaces.