Jessica Harris, “‘Permettereste a vostro figlio di sposare Lola?’: Latent Fascism, American Culture, and Blackness in Postwar Italy”   

Abstract: This article examines the Italian film career of African American singer, dancer, and actress Lola Falana, analyzing the intersection of race, gender, and American cultural capital in a country noted for its, as Sandra Ponzanesi defines it, “colonial unconscious.” This mental state allowed for the racist discourse and discriminatory practices from the Fascist era to persist in the new Republic. However, the ongoing Cold War and strong attraction of American popular culture in Italy granted Falana a certain cultural capital, allowing her to be depicted in a rather progressive way in comparison to her female African counterparts. But, she still did not escape the denigrating racialized stereotypes and rhetoric of Italian colonialism. Drawing on Italian visual media and American and Italian print archival material, the article illustrates how Falana represents American (cultural) imperialism yet latent Fascist colonial racist rhetoric.
Key Words: Lola Falana, Blackness, post-Fascist Italy, colonialism, postcolonial Italy, American culture.