By Way of Implication: La Difesa della Razza, Anno V – N. 7 – 5 Febbraio XX (Numero Speciale)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Michael Rothberg’s figure of the ‘implicated subject’ is the prism through which I engage three texts from the fascist period: a special issue from 1941 of La difesa della razza, US, Emilio Cecchi’s America amara (1939), and Carmine Gallone’s film Harlem (1943) in which Cecchi was involved as a screen-writer. All three focus on the US in order to critique its racial order. In discussions of Fascism, La difesa della razza is much mentioned, yet curiously under-read, and now serves perhaps primarily as shorthand for the anti-black and anti-semitic excesses of the regime from which we can sharply distance ourselves. Cecchi’s prose is more refined, and Gallone’s film more entertaining, yet both are underpinned by the same racialist grammar as La difesa della razza.

As we decolonise and diversify from our positions of privilege, we simultaneously exert that privilege (with the best of intentions). Disavowal comes in handy as it allows us to commit firmly to transforming unwholesome practices of knowledge creation – in this sense, we do not self-consciously allow ourselves to be ‘implicated subjects’. In this presentation, l draw on these texts, all focussed on the Anglophone world (from where we are speaking), to argue that in order to ‘decolonise’ we need accept our ‘implication’ in them. I want to investigate what happens when La difesa della razza looks at us and calls us to account? What might it mean, if just temporarily, we allowed ourselves to inhabit the space of the particular articulation of whiteness that La difesa della razza opens up? What might it mean for us not to disavow, with peremptory zeal, that space, but tarry, just for a minute, in its logics?
Period12 May 2021
Event titleDiversity Decolonization and Italian Studies
Event typeConference
LocationUnited StatesShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational