INFLUENCES OF ITALIAN COLONIAL MEDIA ON PERCEPTIONS OF IMMIGRANTS TODAY

Open Access
Author:
Griffin, Hannah
Area of Honors:
Italian
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Maria Rosa Truglio, Thesis Supervisor
  • Maria Rosa Truglio, Honors Advisor
  • Johanna Wagner, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • Italian
  • media
  • colonial
  • immigrants
  • immigration
  • Africa
Abstract:
Italy is a unique country due to its regional cultures stemming from various countries occupying land prior to its unification in 1871. In addition, it has become a popular destination for many immigrants as the peninsula is situation close to Africa as well as many other European countries. However, these immigrants are not always treated as though they are Italian, even if they are born in Italy, but instead many face discrimination, prejudice and hate simply for being of a different race and culture. With Matteo Salvini becoming an important figure in Italian politics since the election in March 2018, many ideas dating back to the fascist regime are beginning to reemerge as well, especially the concept of racial differences that led to well established laws that were strongly enforced during this time. During the fascist regime, Italy also colonized and maintained control over what was known at the time as Italian East Africa. While interactions and attempted colonization of three main African nations; Ethiopia, Libya and Eritrea, began prior to the rise of fascism, the fascist regime had a great impact and control over the colonies. Throughout this time, various media sources were the only way most Italians could learn about Africa and the African people, but in many cases this portrayal was heavily skewed from the true reality. The media gave the false impression that the Italian people were doing the African people a good favor and the Africans were grateful, when in fact it was just the opposite. They were treated harshly and the Italians tried their best to strip them of their culture and turn the people of the colonies into Italians. However, based on what the media portrayed the public never saw the truth and were likely led to believe that the Italians were superior in providing a service to the Africans. As similar ideas and treatment of people from different cultures has begun to emerge again in recent years, it is clear that these actions can be traced back to the sentiments towards immigrants that took root during the colonial period. By examining colonial media representations of the African people and the sentiments that drove these inaccurate portrayals, along with the current political and social climate surrounding immigrants in Italy today, these links are made obvious. These ideals that drove the actions of Italians during colonial time are resurfacing in Italy today and are influencing the Italians’ perceptions of immigrants.