Barbara Spackman

Jan 6, 2020

Accidental Orientalists

Modern Italian Travelers in Ottoman Lands

Liverpool University Press 2017

purchase at Barbara Spackman’s riveting study identifies a strand of what it calls “Accidental Orientalism” in narratives by Italians who found themselves in Ottoman Egypt and Anatolia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Relocated, or “de-toured” by historical accident, these travelers wrote about their experiences in Italian, English, and French. Crossing class, gender, dress, and religious boundaries as they move about the Mediterranean basin, the travelers’ accounts variously reconfigure, reconsolidate, and often destabilize the imagined East-West divide. Ranging widely on an affective spectrum from Islamophobia to Islamophilia, their narratives are the occasion for the book’s reflection on the practices of cultural cross-dressing, conversion to Islam, and passing and posing as Muslim on the part of Italians who had themselves the object of an Orientalization on the part of Northern Europeans, and whose language had long been the lingua franca of the Mediterranean. Listen in as we discuss Spackman's new book Accidental Orientalists: Modern Italian Travelers in Ottoman Lands (Liverpool UP, 2017).
Ellen Nerenberg is a founding editor of g/s/i-gender/sexuality/Italy and reviews editor of the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies. Recent scholarly essays focus on serial television in Italy, the UK, and North America; masculinities in Italian cinema and media studies; and student filmmakers. Her current book project is La nazione Winx: coltivare la futura consumista/Winx Nation: Grooming the Future Female Consumer, a collaboration with Nicoletta Marini-Maio (forthcoming, Rubbettino Editore, 2020). She is President of the American Association for Italian Studies.

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