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The Italian Empire and brava gente: Oral History and the Dodecanese Islands

  • Nicholas Doumanis

Abstract

Few are prepared nowadays to defend the moral legitimacy of colonialism.1 The scholarly consensus is that the Age of Empire was a dark chapter in history and, as exemplified by colonial discourse studies, colonialism is more appropriately associated with the study of domination and its many guises.2 At a broader social level, however, particularly within post-imperial societies suffering the indignity of decline (for example, Britain and Russia), empire is still linked with past glories, and its memory sustains chauvinistic conceptions of national character. A gap between academic history and popular opinion is also to be found in Italy, where memories of empire are associated with italiani brava gente, that is, an imperial experience which confirms Italians as uniquely humane and good-natured people.3 Even though historians have demonstrated very clearly that Italian colonialism was hardly benign, few are willing to listen. A recent article by James Walston has detailed the dreadful history of concentration camps in North Africa and the Balkans but, as the author also points out, it is a history which undermines cherished myths of Italian identity, and hence it is actively suppressed.4

Keywords

Collective Memory Oral History Social Memory Colonial Experience Moral Legitimacy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Doumanis

There are no affiliations available

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