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De Santi article published in Italian journal
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

De Santi article published in Italian journal

Dr. Chiara De Santi

An article written by Dr. Chiara De Santi, a lecturer in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, on the travelogues of Italian intellectual Alberto Moravia, who spent time in the U.S.S.R. in 1956, has been published in the Italian journal Cultura e comunicazione (Culture and Communication).

De Santi presented the findings of her research on this topic in 2015 at the 46th Northeast Modern Languages Association Annual Convention held in Toronto and more recently on campus last March at the Theorizing Anti-Colonialism workshop co-organized by Dr. Xin Fan, of the Department of History.

The article appears in the journal with the title. “Alberto Moravia in Uzbekistan nel 1956 tra eurocentrismo, orientalismo e colonialismo [Alberto Moravia in Uzbekistan in 1956 between Eurocentrism, Orientalism, and Colonialism]” (Vol. VI/09, June 2016: 30-36, 88-90).

De Santi’s article shows that, notwithstanding his declarations of equality and respect of others’ cultures, Moravia’s Eurocentrism and Orientalism are particularly evident with regard to his travels to Uzbekistan. In his writings, Moravia subtly begins to favor Western civilization over the Eastern civilizations that he feels are in need of being awakened.

The reference to nations that are asleep or dispersed is a first sign of Moravia’s Eurocentrism, while his Orientalistic considerations, from which he seeks to distance himself, are especially evident in his travel notes on Tashkent and Samarkand.

Beyond discussing Moravia’s travelogues and the tension between his desire to avoid seeming especially Eurocentric ̶  while simultaneously succumbing to this tendency ̶  the article also explores what De Santi identifies as Moravia’s warped understanding of colonialism and how his failure to recognize its manifestation in Uzbekistan conflicts with reality.

The Soviets, in fact, operated like a true colonial state with a modernizing agenda in Central Asia, notwithstanding their claims to the contrary, according to De Santi. Moravia, who had strong Leftist and Communist sympathies, ultimately supports the Soviet representations, reinforcing them through his Eurocentrism and also Orientalism.

The article contributes to the scholarly understanding of the connection between Eurocentrism, Orientalism, and Colonialism after World War II and during the first years of the Cold War, and the role of public intellectuals in advancing such attitudes and practices.

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