Fitchburg State Center for Italian Culture examines legacy of colonialism – Sentinel and Enterprise
FITCHBURG – Starting this month, the Center for Italian Culture at Fitchburg State University will take a look at the legacy of Italian colonialism, centered on the 1930s invasion of Ethiopia and its resonance across generations and continents, according to an announcement from the university.
In October 1935, the soldiers of the Italian army invaded Ethiopia. The war lasted until February 1937 and is known in Ethiopia as the Italian invasion and in Italy as the Ethiopian War. The Center for Italian Culture invites the community to explore the complex heritage of this period with a series of programs that will explore history and culture from various angles.
At the heart of this exploration will be the acclaimed novel “The Shadow King” by Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste, which explores the Italian occupation and its aftermath. Faculty members will lead focus groups focused on the novel, culminating in February with an opening speech by Mengiste in February. Other presentations will focus on the history of fascism in Italy and its repercussions across generations and continents.
The programs begin with a film screening and “If Only I Were That Warrior” discussion at 3:30 pm Tuesday, November 9 in the Ellis White Boardroom. The documentary examines the recent construction of a monument dedicated to fascist General Rodolfo Graziani and addresses the unpunished war crimes he and others have committed in the name of the imperial ambitions of Italian leader Benito Mussolini. The stories of three characters, filmed in present-day Ethiopia, Italy and the United States, take audiences on a journey through memories and tangible remains of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia – a journey that crosses generations and continents until today, as this often neglected heritage still binds the fate of two nations and their people.
After the screening, at 5 p.m., there will be a virtual question-and-answer session with director / producer Valerio Ciriaci and cinematographer / producer Isaak Liptzin, who will discuss the making of the film and the questions it raises about the malleable nature of the story.
Associate Professor Kevin McCarthy of the University’s Communications and Media Department will present the screening and host the question-and-answer session with the filmmakers.
The series will continue in 2022 and will conclude with a keynote address at 3:30 p.m. on February 15, when Mengiste comes to campus to discuss his novel, “The Shadow King.”