DENUNCIA: Speaking Up in Modern Italy

Call for Papers

Posted in Conference Information by nyudenuncia on December 9, 2008



Io so. Io so i nomi dei responsabili di quello che viene chiamato golpe (e che in realtà è una serie di golpes istituitasi a sistema di protezione del potere). Io so i nomi dei responsabili della strage di Milano del 12 dicembre 1969. Io so i nomi dei responsabili delle stragi di Brescia e di Bologna dei primi mesi del 1974. […] Io so. Ma non ho le prove. Non ho nemmeno indizi.
Io so perché sono un intellettuale, uno scrittore, che cerca di seguire tutto ciò che succede, di conoscere tutto ciò che se ne scrive, di immaginare tutto ciò che non si sa o che si tace.

–Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Che cos’è questo golpe?,” Corriere della Sera, 14 Novembre 1974

Mi avvicinai a questo quadrato con al centro due lastre di marmo bianco, piccole, e vidi la tomba. “Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975).” […] Mi sembrò d’essere meno solo, e lì iniziai a biascicare la mia rabbia, con i pugni stretti sino a far entrare le unghie nella carne del palmo. Iniziai a articolare il mio io so, l’io so del mio tempo. Io so e ho le prove. Io so come hanno origine le economie e dove prendono l’odore. L’odore dell’affermazione e della vittoria. Io so cosa trasuda il profitto. Io so. E la verità della parola non fa prigionieri perché tutto divora e di tutto fa prova. 

–Roberto Saviano, Gomorra, 2006

To denounce the injustices of his own time, Saviano revives Pasolini’s words of dissent: “Io so.” This is a claim to knowledge positioning its speaker in an antagonistic relation with the established order. What kind of knowledge does this “io” know? Does denuncia implicitly invoke a collective “we”? Why does it seem that the only way to comment on Italian civil society is through singular voices breaking the silence of the status quo? When do these voices emerge and what is so politically and culturally urgent about their utterance? Does the denuncia in some way strand its speaker, leaving it without recourse to civil or legal redress? How do these denunciations affect and impact the public sphere? How does the institutional order respond, in some cases co-opting or censoring these interventions?

As an interrogation into the dynamics of power, denuncia adopts various registers of protest: opposition, disapproval, critique, condemnation, activism. From an interdisciplinary perspective, this conference will attempt to understand the place of denuncia in Italian leftist political culture and how it is articulated through a variety of media: press, radio, television, internet, books, films, documentaries, photography, cartoons, music, and so forth. While we will focus on modern Italy from the unification to the present, we welcome papers that are transnational and trans-historical in scope.

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

Fields of denuncia

corruption, bourgeois conformism, policies of migration/immigration, racism,  patriarchy, organized crime, neo-conservativism and neo-fascism, globalization, terrorism, environmental concerns, workers’ conditions, church-state relations, real estate speculation, censorship…

Voices and Forms of denuncia:

satire, journalism, literature, film and other forms of visual culture (including graphic art, photography, and performance), music, theater, urban studies, philosophy…

intellectuals, student movements, anti-war organizations, queer and feminist politics, centri sociali, associations, inchieste, unions, magistrates, demonstrations, strikes, occupations…

Historically articulated denuncia:

Unification of Italy, First World War, Fascism, Second World War and the Resistance, Post-War Italy, Marshall Plan and the Cold War, 1960’s Economic Boom, ‘68, Anni di Piombo, the 1980’s and media privatization, Tangentopoli, Berlusconi’s contemporary Italy…

A 250-word abstract and cover letter with name, academic affiliation and contact information should be sent by Monday, January 5, 2009 via email to the Conference Committee at:




Or via post to:

Italian Graduate Student Association

Casa Italiana-Zerilli Marimò

24 West 12th Street New York, NY 10011

Attn: Conference Committee

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