Holocaust Intersections in 21st-Century Italy and Britain

13 May 2015, 17:00 - 19:00

Room SG2, Alison Richard Building.

Emiliano Perra  (University of Winchester )
Damiano Garofalo (Sapienza University of Rome)
 

Abstracts:

We will explore how the memory of the Holocaust is reinterpreted and reshaped in Italy and Britain.

Emiliano Perra: The Holocaust and British National Identity in Peter Kosminsky’s The Promise (2011)

Peter Kosminsky’s miniseries The Promise (Channel 4, 2011) generated intense public responses upon its broadcast, predominantly around the representation of the Palestinian Jews in the Mandate years and of Israel in the more recent past. This paper discusses the somewhat less debated but equally important theme of how the miniseries takes the lead from the paradigmatic British Holocaust memory of the liberation of Belsen to engage with issues of British national self-perception. The paper draws on Michael Rothberg’s concept of ‘multidirectional memory’ and Astrid Erll's 'travelling memory' and situates them within a broader postcolonial theoretical framework, in particular Paul Gilroy’s ‘post-imperial melancholia’. In thus doing, the paper argues that The Promise explores important issues related to Britain’s past and present, in particular the lasting heritage of Empire. With relation to the Holocaust, the paper will argue that The Promise problematises conventional public narratives about Britain’s subject position at the end of WWII and in its aftermath. In linking the Holocaust to broader British history, the miniseries thus offers an important contribution towards making the Holocaust less foreign and keeping it relevant for Britain in the present.
 

Damiano Garofalo: Foibe. Public Memory and Media Representations. The Myth-Building of An Italian Holocaust

The object of this paper is to illustrate how the memory of the Foibe has been spread in the Italian media since the end of WWII. In particular, Damiano will explore how certain paradigms of representation, which are characteristic of the memory of the Holocaust, have also been adopted to portray the group of violent events, collectively called Foibe. First, we should distinguish between symbolic and literal Foibe. By symbolic we speak about mass violence against civilians and soldiers of primarily Italian background, which was unleashed during the fall of 1943 and the spring of 1945 in various areas of Venezia Giulia and conducted by the forces of the Yugoslav partisans. By literal Foibe, however, we are referring to natural sinkholes typical of the karst terrain, that dive underground often for many tens of meters, with vertical shafts and repeated shelves, which have been used to hide things people intended to get rid of: this could mean objects [...] but also people, victims of private tragedies or violent historical events. This notwithstanding, the Foibe immediately rose as a symbol of all that happened near the border during those years. In the collective memory, in fact, the infoibati – the victims of the Foibe – have included: a) all those who died at the hands of the Slovene, Croat and Italian communist partisans between the fall of 1943 and the spring-summer of 1945; b) the victims of the brutalities of the last two years of war in the entire upper Adriatic region, including Dalmatia; c) the victims of the violence suffered by the Italian population during the long post-war period in Istria (1945-1956), culminating in more than 250,000 people fleeing to Italy. This public discourse have been particularly reaffirmed during the last thirty years. Initially, we will introduce the subject with a brief historiographical reconstruction of how the theme of the Holocaust has been compared to the Foibe by historians. A second part will follow in which we will dive into the institutional politics that have been bent to the creation of public memory of the Foibe based on that comparison. In the final part, we will analyse the modalities through which the paradigm of the Foibe/Holocaust has found effective expression in live TV and TV series on the subject. Via the analysis of several moments, we will see how certain rhetorical and metaphorical themes persist out of preceding representations of the Holocaust, which were facilitated by the same media channels.

 

About the speakers:

Emiliano Perra is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Winchester. Hs research interests focus on Holocaust memory and representation, in particular in films and television programmes. He is the author of Conflicts of Memory: The Reception of Holocaust Films and Television Programmes in the Italian Press, 1945 to the Present (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010) and of several articles in edited books and journals, including among others Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Memory Studies. He is currently working on a history of cinematic representations of genocide.

Damiano Garofalo (Rome, 1986) received a Ph.D. in Historical Studies at the University of Padova, with a thesis on early Italian television popular consumption. He is currently teaching assistant at Sapienza University of Rome, where he also received his BA and MA, both in Modern History. He is also in charge of the video library of the Fondazione Museo della Shoah in Rome, where he's currently studying the Holocaust representations in audiovisual medias.

 

Open to all.  No registration required

Part of Places of Amnesia Research Group seminar series