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Professor of Africana Studies, Hamilton College
Being Italian: The Peculiar Journey of Blackness
Professor Merrill will explore the problematic presence of people of African descent in Italy, in the context of rapid social transformation, anti-immigrant and anti-black hostility, and a hesitancy to include them as full members of European societies. There are ongoing contestations over spatial rights and meanings. People of the African diaspora, have struggled for place and belonging in Italy since at least the early 1990s, and there has been a constant movement to relegate them to peripheral status, or to erase their presence as full, complex human beings. She will examine several local spaces generated by African origin Italians and local Italian collaborators that represent creative inter-cultural movement, intersecting histories and subjectivities. Her discussion will also touch on issues of representational sites of the popular media that nourish the popular imagination, and conflicts over the emergence of a rich, diverse Italy that embraces a more expansive world of interconnections and interrelationships.