Embodying Colonial Ghosts in Postcolonial Italian Women's Writing


  • Noreen Kane Department of Italian, UCC




the body, intergenerational trauma, Italian postcolonial literature, transnational women’s writing, trauma theory, Ubuntu


While Italian colonialism in Africa is an aspect of Italy’s history that has started to receive academic attention in the last three decades, it remains outside the collective memory of many Italians. In opposition to this lack of mainstream cultural awareness, a proliferation of literary works has been produced, predominantly by female writers with origins in Italy’s former colonies in East Africa, filling in the historical omissions and, importantly, providing a transnational voice to gendered experiences of colonial trauma. Many of these authors foreground the female corporeal experience of colonialism and its legacy. My PhD thesis explores the representation of gendered colonial trauma and its intergenerational transmission through the female body. I examine a range of literary texts by women writers with origins in Somalia and Ethiopia, dating from 2007 to the present. Their work ranges across contexts and languages (Italian and English), yet each narrates colonial history in a highly embodied way, providing an alternative discourse to the nostalgic, mythologising historiography offered by mainstream Italian literature from the post-war period to the present.


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