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The Fishing Net and the Spider Web: Mediterranean Imaginaries and the Making of Italians

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A book talk with author Claudio Fogu (UCSB, French and Italian).

The Fishing Net and the Spider Web explores the role of Mediterranean imaginaries in one of the preeminent tropes of Italian history: the formation or 'making of' Italians. While previous scholarship on the construction of Italian identity has often focused too narrowly on the territorial notion of the nation-state, and over-identified Italy with its capital, Rome, this book highlights the importance of the Mediterranean Sea to the development of Italian collective imaginaries. From this perspective, this book re-interprets key historical processes and actors in the history of modern Italy, and thereby challenges mainstream interpretations of Italian collective identity as weak or incomplete. Ultimately, it argues that Mediterranean imaginaries acted as counterweights to the solidification of a 'national' Italian identity, and still constitute alternative but equally viable modes of collective belonging.

Claudio Fogu is Associate Professor of Italian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a scholar interested in the development of modern visual culture and collective imaginaries. His work has focused on Italy, initially on the visualization of the historical past during fascism, and, more recently, on the Mediterranean imaginaries developed in Italian culture and thought.

Brian J. Griffith is the inaugural Eugen and Jacqueline Weber Post-Doctoral Scholar in European History at University of California, Los Angeles. His interests include modern Europe, modern Italy, Fascism, consumerism, (trans)national identities, and the digital humanities.

Interwar Crisis: Europe, 1918-1939 is the public facing, student authored weblog of a modern European history course which is being taught by Dr. Brian J Griffith at University of California, Los Angeles during the Spring 2021 quarter (March 29-June 11, 2021). The course, which shares the same name as this Open Access volume, explores the various political, economic, social, and cultural upheavals which took place in Europe between the two world wars, and asks its participants to consider the various parallels between developments during the 1920s and 1930s and today’s international community.

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Published: Tuesday, May 25, 2021