Title

Prison, Theatre, and Italy’s Boogiemen

Subject Area

Minorities and Multicultural Issues

Abstract

This paper situates the discourse of ethnic diversity as it developed in postwar Italy to a broader transnational perspective. More specifically, it examines Antonio Campobasso’s 1980 novel A Black Man from Apulia, a testimony to the treatment of biracial war children of postwar Italy that in 1946 became a Republic. Set in Southern Italy, the novel narrates the author’s journey in correctional institutions due to his African-American, and Italian mixed race ancestry. Drawing upon the dual meaning of the word “nero,” that translates in Italian not only as “black man,” but also as “boogieman,” the study argues that the title itself calls for the novel to examine racial discrimination in postwar Italy. The black man from Apulia appears as an allegorical figure embodying looming concerns of the newborn Italian Republic: the birth of biracial identities and women’s desires for societal public emancipation. On a larger scale, the project proposes a comparative framework to examine several interesting points of intersection between the Prison Arts Movement in the United States and the Behind-The-Bars Theater Projects in Italy. A Black Man From Apulia is in fact a story of resilience made possible by the author’s passion for theater.

Brief Bio Note

Rosetta Giuliani Caponetto is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Lit. at Auburn University. Her areas of academic interests include Italian colonialism in Africa, African diaspora in literature and film; postcolonial theory, race and ethnic studies. She is the author of Fascist Hybridities: Representations of Racial Mixing and Diaspora Cultures Under Mussolini (Palgrave, 2015).

Keywords

Postwar Italy, war children, boogieman, African American and Italian mixed race offspring

Location

Room 218/220

Presentation Year

2018

Start Date

4-5-2018 9:15 AM

Embargo

1-15-2018

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Apr 5th, 9:15 AM

Prison, Theatre, and Italy’s Boogiemen

Room 218/220

This paper situates the discourse of ethnic diversity as it developed in postwar Italy to a broader transnational perspective. More specifically, it examines Antonio Campobasso’s 1980 novel A Black Man from Apulia, a testimony to the treatment of biracial war children of postwar Italy that in 1946 became a Republic. Set in Southern Italy, the novel narrates the author’s journey in correctional institutions due to his African-American, and Italian mixed race ancestry. Drawing upon the dual meaning of the word “nero,” that translates in Italian not only as “black man,” but also as “boogieman,” the study argues that the title itself calls for the novel to examine racial discrimination in postwar Italy. The black man from Apulia appears as an allegorical figure embodying looming concerns of the newborn Italian Republic: the birth of biracial identities and women’s desires for societal public emancipation. On a larger scale, the project proposes a comparative framework to examine several interesting points of intersection between the Prison Arts Movement in the United States and the Behind-The-Bars Theater Projects in Italy. A Black Man From Apulia is in fact a story of resilience made possible by the author’s passion for theater.