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The project is based in the Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies of the University of Padua, where research and teaching in the field of postcolonial critical theory, literatures and cultures have been carried out for over twenty years. It stems from the joint work of scholars in the human and social sciences who are interested in investigating the role and the potential of postcolonial ideas and practices in the Italian academic and cultural context.
The main aim is to sound the epistemological impact of the radical openness of the postcolonial paradigm on canons and disciplinary borders, and to promote scientific debates and activities that, by making visible the country's (post)colonial legacy, may produce re-readings of our historical and cultural tradition and interrogate its future.
The research finds its origin in the need to move beyond a longstanding academic tradition of defensive protection of disciplines in our universities that forecloses the formation of a common grammar, the possibility of sharing and confronting criteria of inquiry and meaning-production across disciplines, and both inside and outside the national borders.
A broad perspectival angle subtends our work, which we refer to as the 'European South': a provocative theoretical location, rather than an identifiable geo-political region, connected to the notion of the 'Global South' that has become a shorthand for the world of non-European postcolonial peoples. The project asks how we might bring to light the new faces of our country 'in transit' by means of theory developed in/from the South and a postcolonial critical approach that may offer new readings of our cultural archives, of the 'location' of Italian culture.

The project entails two interconnected research lines:
- a study of the reception of postcolonial theory in Italy, configured as a critical inquiry into the development of ideas, research practices and theoretical investigations in the human and social sciences by scholars who variously invoke, gesture towards or deliberately work from within a postcolonial stance or perspective. This should enable an analysis of what kind of adjustments in canonical research areas and methods postcolonial studies have produced and can eventually enact;
- it is believed that this exercise in the history of ideas and the life of disciplines will highlight the ways in which Italian scholars and intellectuals have contributed to the transnational panorama of postcolonial studies. The aim is to redraw the postcolonial intellectual map, since texts and ideas from Italy have indeed offered critical and analytical tools to the global academic community and fostered the de-nationalization of contemporary academic debates.

Planned activities and events:
- the establishment of a research network on the questions raised by the project to promote interdisciplinary work and start a permanent forum of discussion and critical observation based at the University of Padua;
- the organization of research workshops and occasions for encounters with intellectuals, writers, artists;
- the dissemination of research outcomes through a dedicated website (in English and Italian);
- the creation of a catalogue of the research and intellectual activity carried out from within a broadly-defined postcolonial perspective, providing a general view of the genealogical development of 'the Italian postcolonial';
- the publication of research results in national and international journals;
- the collaboration in postgraduate education programs with a focus on the postcolonial;
- the participation in workshops and intellectual experiments based in the South.

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Annalisa Oboe
Principal investigator
Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies

 

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published on october 22, 2013