‘Italy’s imperial debris. Spaces, objects, memories of an unburied colonial past’

Gianmarco is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Advanced Study (Institute for Languages, Cultures and Societies) at the University of London, and Teaching Fellow in Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Sassari. His research interests span across different perspectives and methodologies, aiming at investigating the extent to which colonialism affected the making of modern and contemporary Italy, and the countries where Italy acted as a colonial power. He received his first doctorate in Italian Colonial History at the University of Cagliari (2015), working on the fascist film propaganda about the Ethiopian war (1935-41). A monograph based on this research has recently been published (Vedere l’impero. L’Istituto Luce e il colonialismo fascista, Mimesis 2022). In 2020, he has successfully defended his second doctoral thesis at the University of Warwick (School of Modern Languages and Cultures), in which he studied how the entangled processes of de-fascistization and decolonisation engendered narratives and memories about the colonial period, which have been reverberating in modern and contemporary Italian society ever since.

Gianmarco’s interest in (post)colonial histories and memories, media studies, collective identities and mobility has influenced his whole research pathway and outputs, which engage Italian history and cultures through critical, postcolonial, and transnational perspectives. His expertise on these topics led him to be appointed as research fellow in Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Cagliari (2021-2022), as research assistant in the AHRC project ‘The Dialectics of Modernity: Modernism, Modernisation, and the Arts Under European Dictatorships’ (University of Manchester, 2017). As intern at the Italian embassy in Ethiopia (2011), and as collaborator on the ‘Transnationalising Modern Languages. Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures’ (AHRC large-grant project), he worked extensively on Italian communities in Ethiopia (2015-2016). By further developing expertise in addressing sub-national communities abroad, as Luisa Selis Research Fellow (Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 2018), he explored to what extent specific forms of transinsular identity are constructed within the activities of associations of Sardinian migrants in Italy and Europe.


Gianmarco Mancosu is the CIRN – Intesa San Paolo Visiting Fellow 2022-23, and he will be at CRASSH in Lent Term. During his stay in Cambridge, he will research into the manifold articulations of colonial memories in modern and contemporary Italy. Building on these premises, he will be organising a symposium entitled ‘Italy’s Imperial Debris. Spaces, Objects, Memories of an Unburied Colonial Past’. The event aims to establish a dialogue between scholars and practitioners working on the physical and cultural spaces where the Italian imperial discourse unfolded, thus offering a multidisciplinary perspective on the ways in which histories, memories, and narratives related to expansionism materialized in those sites. All the convenors will tackle the multi-layered, multi-sited, and multi-directional dynamic of colonial memories, which travelled across time to strengthen a certain idea of Italian identity and belongings, co-existing with other, often contrasting memories related to the imperial past.

Major publications


  • Vedere l’impero. L’Istituto Luce e il colonialismo fascista, Mimesis, Milano 2022

Articles and essays


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