The Department of French and Italian

Transformed Epistemologies of the Mediterranean? The Case of Contemporary Italy

Tue, November 11, 2014

Transformed Epistemologies of the Mediterranean? The Case of Contemporary Italy

This talk examines emerging articulations of the idea of the Mediterranean in Italy’s intellectual and artistic culture from the 1980s to the present. Starting from the premise that contemporary European discourses on the Mediterranean are best assessed when studied through specific genealogies of histories, cultures, and traditions, I broadly trace discourses on the Mediterranean before arguing that, against the background of the changed geo-political and geo-cultural contexts ushered by the end of the Cold War, the nation as a category of scholarly and imaginative understanding is being replaced by that of the region. Through a sophisticated re-thinking of Italy’s Mediterranean location, contemporary Italian artists and intellectuals question the boundaries between Self and Other (and between native and foreign bodies) by exploring a Mediterranean heritage of contaminations and crossovers that not only critiques notions of cultural and ethnic homogeneity but also Eurocentric myths of progress and rationality upon which these boundaries are founded. In so doing, these artists and intellectuals testify to the essential role of culture in advancing new models of belonging for the twenty-first century that are necessary to transcend the religious, ethnic, socio-economic and cultural hierarchies and frontiers erected anew by the institutions of post-Cold War European capitalist and globalized modernity. 



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  • Department of French and Italian

    University of Texas at Austin
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