Tag Archives: identity

White Vanishing and Settler Colonial Anxiety in the 1975 Film “Picnic at Hanging Rock”

Costanza Bergo (Researcher at the University of New South Wales)  

 13 December 2019, 11:00-12:30, Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati

organised by the Visual and Material History Working Group

Settler colonial landscape is increasingly understood as a spatial project produced by imagined geographies. This fantasy-scape is a separate entity from physical, occupied landscape; yet it always maintains a relation to it and can manifests spatially.

Settler colonialism operates as a structure that must be continuously performed, asserted and naturalised. Part of what allows this structure to be naturalised is a network of affective registers: a structure of feelings. My research argues that part of the ways in which this structure of feelings is enacted is through landscape representation.

Considering settler colonial landscape in this way, this paper will focus on the 1975 movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. The movie centres around the fictional disappearance of four Victorian schoolgirls during a day trip at nearby Hanging Rock. While the story is entirely fictional, the movie’s lasting legacy has sparked real-life search parties and a large body of historical research which goal is to find the imaginary missing girls. By contrast, history of Indigenous massacres in the same area have been entirely overlooked. This paper will analyse the trope of white vanishing, and of mythology of the Australian landscape as threat, as symbiotic features of the various ‘moves to innocence’ enacted by the white nation to (unsuccessfully) distance itself from the violence of colonialism. I will consider the paradox of imagined geographies revolving around instability manifesting spatially as concrete, permanent structures, such as the real-life Hanging Rock discovery centre.

Where the Serbian Identity Lies

Marcoandrea Spinelli

30 January 2019, 17:00-18:00, Seminar Room 4, Badia Fiesolana

Marcoandrea Spinelli holds a BA and a MA in Contemporary History and will present his research project “Where the Serbian Identity Lies” which intends to analyze the meaning of Serbdom, the Serbian feeling of identity, articulated in the local terms of Srpstvo and Inat, which Serbs use to describe themselves. Main purposes of this project are to explore:

  • the difference between a politically Serbian city and a culturally Serbian city;
  • the feelings of Bosnian and Kosovo Serbs which consider Serbia their homeland;
  • the opposite feeling of some ethnic minorities who live in Serbia.

In order to understand the relationship between Serbdom and a parallel but “other” national feeling, Spinelli plans to visit Subotica, Novi Pazar, Banja Luka and Gracanica, and also several villages located within the Serbian territory but inhabited by ethnic minorities.

The project will be implemented by interviewing eminent figures of each minority and community, in order to gather information about: village’s history, urban and architectural symbols, local political associationism, personal viewpoints about alterity, religion, education and language.

Gastronationalism and the politics of demarcation in Western Europe. Reassessing Motives, Actors and Territorial Scales in the Politics of Food

Herman Lelieveldt (SPS Visiting Fellow)

23 May 2017, 16:00-18:00, Sala del Capitolo, Badia Fiesolana

In an age in which political debates increasingly revolve around cultural issues the importance of food as a means to underline and emphasize national identities can hardly be overstated. European wide surveys show that almost three quarters of citizens want to know from which country a product has been sourced, national politicians increasingly proposing country of origin legislation for various food products and food producers increasing don their products with national flags and labels such as Made in Italy. All these examples are clear manifestations of “gastronationalism”, a term originally introduced by the sociologist Michaela DeSoucey to refer to the “use of food production, distribution, and consumption to demarcate and sustain the emotive power of national attachments, as well as the use of nationalists sentiments to produce and market food” (2010: 433).

In my presentation I argue that it is only by going beneath and beyond the national level that we can really understand how food is used to shape and re-shape identities and for what purposes. Gastropolitics in other words is a multifaceted phenomenon that runs all the way from the economically motivated EUs agricultural quality scheme aimed at highlighting the regional origins of traditional foods to the outright xenophobic criticism of Halal school lunches by the French Front National. I show how battles over these food identities reflect the more fundamental tension between integration and demarcation that is increasingly becoming relevant as a new fault line in European politics, both in economic and in cultural terms.

Herman Lelieveldt teaches political science at University College Roosevelt and is the convenor of the Utrecht Summer School on Food Politics in the EU. He is the author of The Politics of the European Union (Cambridge UP, 2015, with Sebastiaan Princen) and De Voedselparadox (The Food Paradox. Why it is so hard to make our food system more sustainable (Van Gennep, 2016).