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Jewish Refugee Women, Transnational Coalition Politics, and Affect in Ebe Cagli Seidenberg’s Come ospiti: Eva ed altri


Writing across and beyond borders evokes at once the human aspiration to connectedness and the reality of a divided world invested in particular interests. For Ebe Cagli Seidenberg, the act of writing emanates from the Fascist racial laws of 1938, which forced her – a young Jewish Italian woman – to leave her native Italy and find refuge in the United States. The production of a five-volume series entitled Ciclo dell’esilio obbligato [Cycle of the Forced Exile, 1975-91] is a testament to that unwanted separation and the implications that borders have on processes of self and communal identity, hybridization and exclusion. Come ospiti: Eva ed altri (1991) is the last volume of Ciclo and the focus of this essay. The novel is a portrayal of a small community of European refugees gathered in the hills of Berkeley, California. This essay explores two different articulations of coalition politics and borders in Come ospiti: the first one emphasizes affect, gender and class relationships, and the destructive effects of silencing and social masking, especially in relation to women and motherhood. On another level, and perhaps as a counterpoint to the impermanent female alliances of the story, coalition politics is articulated through the quest for literary interlocutors across national and linguistic borders. The result, I contend, is a liminal literary space molded on a national tradition but set to achieve a transnational status.

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