CFP: [Ethnic] "Terrone" to "Extra-Comunitario": Racism in Italian Cinema

full name / name of organization: 
Grace Russo Bullaro
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Has the image of the terrone, long a symbol of “racism” and societal
division existing in Italy, been supplanted by that of the extra-
comunitario, now that Italian society has been radically and
fundamentally modified by the waves of legal and illegal immigrants? And
has the traditional expression of “racism,” one that formerly did not
denote racial difference, also changed as a result? How are these
changes reflected in contemporary Italian cinema? These are some of the
issues that this volume of essays aims to explore.
Among the films that have quintessentially expressed this clash between
polentoni and terroni are Rocco and His Brothers, Swept Away and Ciao
Professore, to name just a few. However, today the numbers of people who
are second and third generation Italian-born has become increasingly more
visible in society and in the arts. Indeed, since the children and
grandchildren of the first wave of immigrants have long been absorbed,
the very definition of “Italian” needs to be reevaluated and redefined.
The demographic shifts alluded to above have given birth to an entire sub-
genre of film: “migrant cinema in Italy.”
In this book, tentatively titled From Terrone to Extra-Comunitario, the
New Racism in Contemporary Italian Cinema, I propose to collect essays
that will explore the evolution of racism as expressed in Italian cinema
in the last fifty years. Ideally the essays will examine both
manifestations of this phenomenon, the North vs. South traditional
conflict and its newer materialization, the “Italian” vs. “foreign”
immigrant clash, keeping in mind that the very terms need to be defined
in the present historical and societal context. Additionally we will
attempt to probe the liminal space existing between the two, try to
understand the mechanisms that operate at their interface, and what they
portend for the future.
You may submit papers that address any of the following topics or others
deemed to be equally pertinent to this subject, casting your argument in
the context of cinema:
• How has the traditional North vs. South racist discourse been
justified during the historical period when the Italian population was
still largely racially homogeneous? What are the elements on which this
Otherness has long been based?
• In what fundamental ways have “race” and “ethnicity” been
redefined in the last few decades as a result of geopolitical forces and
• Has the image of the terrone been supplanted by that of the extra-
comunitario or merely been supplemented?
• Europe is currently divided on issues of immigration (legal and
illegal) and its cultural ramifications. These two paradigms are
synechdocally represented by Fallaci’s Fortress Europe and Habermas’
Eurabia. How have these competing visions for Europe’s future, and the
tensions that they have created, shaped the current self-image
of “Italians” and how is this self-image reflected in films?

Please send abstracts of 400-500 words to:
Grace Russo Bullaro, City University of New York- Lehman College at:
Deadline: December 31, 2007.

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Received on Mon Sep 10 2007 - 13:06:16 EDT