Pub Date1998
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Italy’s Southern Question: “Orientalism” in One Country

Jane Schneider (ed)
Berg Publishers

The ‘Southern Question’ has been a major topic in Italian political, economic and cultural life for a century and more. During the Cold War, it was the justification for heavy government intervention. In contemporary Italy, a major part of the appeal of the Lombard League has been its promise to dissociate the South from the North, even to the point of secession. The South also remains a resonant theme in Italian literature. This interdisciplinary book endeavours to answer the following:- When did people begin to think of the South as a problem?- Who – intellectuals, statisticians, criminologists, political exiles, novelists (among them some important southerners) – contributed to the discourse about the South and why?- Did their view of the South correspond to any sort of reality?- What was glossed over or ignored in the generalized vision of the South as problematic?- What consequences has the ‘Question’ had in controlling the imaginations and actions of intellectuals and those with political and other forms of power?- What alternative formulations might people create and live by if they were able to escape from the control of the ‘Question’ and to imagine the political, economic and cultural differences within Italy in some other way? This timely book reveals how Southern Italians have been affected by distorted versions of a complex reality similar to the discourse of ‘Orientalism’. In situating the devaluation of Southern Italian culture in relation to the recent emergence of ‘anti-mafia’ ideology in the South and the threat posed to national unity by the Lombard League, it also illuminates the world’s stiff inter-regional competition for investment capital.