Italian Neorealist and New Migrant films as dispositifs of alterity: How borgatari and popolane challenge the stereotypes of nationhood and womanhood?

Studies in European Cinema 20 (1):58-81 (2023)
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The article explores the place of women and migrants in Italian Neorealist and New Migrant cinema, arguing that New Migrant cinema continues and reworks key Neorealist tropes and tendencies. It intends to render explicit how an ensemble of films challenge the stereotypes concerning gender, national and cultural identities. Among the figures that are scrutinized are the borgatari, extracomunitari, popolane and terrone. Its main objective is to demonstrate how the cinematic expression of these figures in Italian Neorealist and New Migrant cinema enhanced the reinvention of italianità and the generalised understanding of gender. It also aims to explain why the cross-fertilisation between migration studies, urban studies and gender studies is indispensable for comprehending this reinvention. Particular emphasis is placed on the shared interest of Roberto Rossellini’s Roma città aperta and Vittorio De Sica’s Il tetto in the plight over housing and the special character of the urban landscape of Rome. The article also sheds light on certain common concerns of Italian Neorealist and New Migrant cinema, especially as far as national and gender narratives are concerned. Pivotal for the reflections developed here are the roles of Anna Magnani in Roberto Rossellini’s Roma città aperta, Luchino Visconti’s Bellissima and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma.

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Marianna Charitonidou
Athens School of Fine Arts


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