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LECTURE: “Visualizing Race: Black Women in Italian Film and Television, 1965-2018”



LECTURE: “Visualizing Race: Black Women in Italian Film and Television, 1965-2018”

On the occasion of Black History Month the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, presents a lecture by Jessica L. Harris: “Visualizing Race: Black Women in Italian Film and Television, 1965-2018”.

 Free admission

This lecture explores the depictions of women of African descent in Italian film and television from the postwar period to the present-day. Specifically, the lecture will analyze the Italian media’s representations of African-American actress, singer, and dancer Lola Falana (Stasera mi butto, 1967; Lola Colt, 1967), Eritrean top model Zeudi Araya (La ragazza dalla pelle di luna, 1972; La ragazza fuoristrada, 1973; Il corpo, 1974), and Afro-Italian actresses Tezetà Abraham and Lorena Cesarini (È arrivata la felicità, 2015-2018; Suburra - La serie, 2017). Do these films and TV shows draw on the racialized imagery of Italy’s colonial archive in creating the characters to be played by these women? Or do they move beyond these stereotypical, denigrating representations? Thus, by looking at these representations over fifty plus years, the lecture will demonstrate how, or perhaps if, the Italian media’s depiction of black women has changed over this period and the reasons for these changes, or in the case of the alternative, why they have remained the same.


Jessica L. Harris is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Toronto. She is a scholar of Modern Italy, Black Europe, Women’s History, African American History, and 20th century U.S. and the World, with a particular interest in gender and race, their intersection with material culture, and the subsequent effect on group identities. Her current project explores the cultural presence of African American women in 20th century Italy, in particular in film, television, and fashion. Jessica’s first book Italian Women’s Experiences with American Consumer Culture, 1945-1975: The Italian Mrs. Consumer is forthcoming with Palgrave Macmillan.


Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Time: At 6:30 pm

Organized by : Istituto Italiano di Cultura

Entrance : Free


Istituto Italiano di Cultura | 496 Huron Street


Jessica L. Harris