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RLL Lecture/Conversations on Europe. "Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema: The Conquest of Libya and the Assault on the Nomadic."

Thursday, September 29, 2011
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University.

Lecture interweaves Italian imperial and filmic histories.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat writes, teaches, and lectures on the cultures and histories of modern Italy. Her areas of specialization include Italian film and visual culture, 20th century Italian history, Fascism and World War Two, and Italian colonialism and its postcolonial legacies. Throughout her career she has been dedicated to interdisciplinary inquiry, and the agenda of bringing the questions, methods, and sources of several fields together to shape the emergent field of Italian Studies has motivated her activities as a scholar and cultural organizer. She is the recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright, NEH, Mellon, and other fellowships, she is Chair of the Department of Italian Studies and Professor of Italian Studies and History at New York University.
Abstract: The recent events in Libya have brought attention to the "special relationship" of Italy and Libya, but Italy's colonial past remains relatively unknown. This neglected history has translated into an obscured film history: the dozens of documentary and feature films made on imperial themes are still little studied. Ruth Ben-Ghiat's talk brings these filmic and imperial histories together in an examination of the silent movie "Kif tebbi," which is set and partly shot in the Tripolitanian region of Libya. It forms part of the international Orientalist trend in filmmaking, but also testifies to Mussolini’s impact on Italian male stardom and the need to justify an Italian occupation that inaugurated new levels of colonial violence among European powers. "Kif tebbi" offers a window into the continuities and ruptures of Italian imperial ideologies and iconographies from early to late Fascism and from silent to sound cinema. The talk concludes with images from today's Libya and reflections on the lasting effects of Italian occupation.
Sponsors: Departments of Romance Languages and Literatures, History, Screen Arts and Cultures; International Institute; Institute for the Humanities; and Center for European Studies-European Union Center.