Silvana Palma

Fotografia di una colonia: l'Eritrea di Luigi Naretti (1885-1900)

  • Abstract

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Within the Italian colonial photographic production Luigi Naretti's work appears exemplary for its quality and for the importance and the wide circulation it shortly gains. From this point of view Naretti's camera besides being a witness becomes a means of support of the gradual consolidation of the Italian presence in Eritrea, able to convey to the late nineteenth century public, eager of images and lacking in knowledge about that part of the African continent, a specific perception of the colony and the sense of a new order in which the gaze becomes the organizing means. The essay aims to examine the specific perception of the African society and culture, as well as that of the colonial reality, that Naretti's photography records and transmits. Through the identification of what is shown and what is omitted, and the analysis of peculiar photographic conventions and idioms, the essay explores the role of Naretti's photography, its contribution to the formation of the newborn Italian state's identity, but also its functionality level in favour of the colonial domination and of the creation of some peculiar Italian myths still alive in the contemporary collective imagery of the colonial experience.

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