Italy’s postcolonial cinema and its histories of representation

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A number of recent films have explored migration to Italy. Responses tend to focus on the novelty of this phenomenon in relation to Italian history, and to the history of Italian cinema as a nation building project. I argue, however, that these films need to be seen in terms of how they racialize the non-Italian subject, and that they are embedded in complex histories of Italian colonialism, and emigration. After surveying work on Italian cinema that engages with questions of race, I consider the representation of Albanian migrants in Munzi's Saimir (2004). Despite the film's sympathetic take on the efforts of clandestine, Albanian migrants to integrate into Italian society, it is mired in a tradition of representation that systematically constructs the non-Italian as extraneous to the nation. Saimir can be seen as a postcolonial film as its representational economy depends on, and extends, a colonial logic of racial difference.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-211
Number of pages17
JournalItalian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2008


  • Albania
  • Postcolonial
  • Colonialism
  • Migration
  • Race
  • Saimir


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