The Visual Culture of the Italian Mezzogiorno. Cinema and Tourism Production Systems (1947–1962)

Malvina Giordana, Ph.D.

Between the end of the World War II and the beginning of the 60s, the Italian filmography focused on the representation of the urban, suburban, natural, and cultural landscapes of Southern Italy significantly changed. My research examines what are the profound historical and political motivations that pushed many filmmakers, producers, state bureaucrats, and other stakeholders to revise their filmic representation. As visual culture studies suggest, films are objects at the centre of dense cultural, industrial, and political dynamics through which their social value and forms of circulations are shaped, discussed and adjusted. In a similar vein, this research aims to explore how the social meaning and the materiality of spaces and places are created through forms of representations that are clearly incorporated into the capitalist process of accumulation.The main research question is: how significant have these negotiating processes been in shaping the national and international shared catalogue of localities and communities of Southern Italy? On the one side, the project deals with complex entanglements between film’s locations and the consolidating imaginary of the Italian Bel Paese (introduced through the tourist guidebooks developed for the nascent phenomenon of mass tourism). On the other, it explores how pre-censorship imposed on 'outdoor' cinematographic representations by the Direzione Generale per la Cinematografia and other institutions involved in the governance of places. The proposal of comparing cinema and tourism production systems will lead to a corpus of films to enhance the study on tourism, landscape and the tourist gaze, which have exploded in recent years, through possible genealogical paths and new processes of negotiation. 

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