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Relations Beyond Encounters : : Reinterpreting Post- Coloniality in Egyptian and Italian Literatures and Identities between 1826 and 1940


The scope of this dissertation is to examine the representations of Egypt in modern Italian literature. By closely analyzing Egyptian, Italian and French texts related to the colonial moment and the Italian intellectual environment during fascism I revise current views of colonial relations between Egypt and Europe. Informed by a historical and a theoretical perspective that deals with the rise of nationhood, the regulation of national identity, and intellectuals' responses to these changes, I demonstrate the inadequacies of the terms "national" and "colonial" to account for the "intermingling" and "interdependent" work of the texts I examine. The novels and poems I examine host representational features that reveal the polyphonic character of the lives of Italian immigrants in Egypt during the early twentieth century. Such polyphony invalidates fascist efforts at establishing a national identity based on the illusion of an essential national character and a homogenous cultural background. This dissertation recognizes the intersection of three main vectors in the creation of the creative works analyzed in this dissertation: politics, the cultural environment, and the specific autobiography of the authors. The literary texts I study in this dissertation, constructed from the everyday events of intercultural relations, seek to understand life through social interactions. In this way, I stress the need to view cultural relations between Egypt and Italy not as the mere result of colonial interests that become regulated during the fascist era but rather as a relationship that has been organically built through mutual dialogue, friendship and cultural negotiations formed across time and that I aim to detect in the literary texts in question

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