Chapter 6 expands the analysis of the perception of the British by addressing the period stretching from 1943 to 1945. It makes use of official contemporary sources to demonstrate that, even after the fall of Fascism, and during the slow campaign leading to the Liberation in April 1945, large sections of the Italian people tended to regard the British with antipathy, especially if compared with the perception of their American allies.
Chapter 1 analyses how the Fascist regime and its intellectuals represented Britain as an imperial power and international player. Unlike in the case of Nazi Germany, the tropes public discourse used to describe Britain were far less positive and that admiration, since the earlier days of the Fascist movement, was often mixed with open dislike. Anglophobia had been present, if at times dormant, since the Great War. The chapter addresses the genesis of anti-British tropes during the Great War and their evolution during the immediate post-war years, especially during the days of tense negotiations at Versailles in 1919, and of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s Fiume Free State (1920–1924). As the following period of less troubled Anglo-Italian relations between the Corfu crisis in 1923 and the Great Depression of 1929 proceeded, a more diverse (if still within the limits allowed in an authoritarian country) range of opinions concerning Britain as an international player emerged. The chapter investigates how various criteria, among which were white supremacy, anti-communism and domestic issues, influenced the Fascist perception of the British Empire during this period. The anti-British discourse in the media was not just the artificial product of government direction, but rather responded to deeply rooted prejudices and did not always abide by the regime’s changing needs. The chapter also examines the legacy of Romanità (Roman-ness), the persistent comparison of Britain with Ancient Rome’s arch- enemy, Carthage.
Chapter 4 deals with the largely neglected issue of the racial image of the British people in the later years of the Fascist regime, as it adopted an openly racist ideology and legislation. The chapter looks at the development of Fascist racism and the establishment of various ‘factions’ or ‘schools’ within it. In particular it focuses on the ‘Mediterraneanists’, who supported the view of an Italian people belonging to a unified Mediterranean race, and the ‘Nordicists’, or biological racists who were close to German racist doctrines. The chapter examines the racist analysis of the British people in magazines like La Difesa della Razza within the context of the fierce ideological and ‘academic’ struggle among various racist schools of thought. in doing so, it follows the methodology of Aaron Gillette in his book Racial Theories in Fascist Italy. If the ‘spiritual’ Mediterraneanist racists tended to use Anglophobic racial rhetoric as a tool to attack the notion of a ‘nordic’ Italy, at times using Britain as a roundabout way to attack Germany, the Nazi-inspired, Nordicist biological racists found themselves in an embarrassing position, surprisingly being among the last Anglophiles in Fascist cultural discourse. The chapter also underlines the intersection of the racist debate with other themes like feminism, colonial rule, demography and sexuality.
COVID-19 has reinstated the sovereign enclosures of corpse management that mothers of the disappeared had so successfully challenged in the past decade. To explore how moral duties toward the dead are being renegotiated due to COVID-19, this article puts forward the notion of biorecuperation, understood as an individualised form of forensic care for the dead made possible by the recovery of biological material. Public health imperatives that forbid direct contact with corpses due to the pandemic, interrupt the logics of biorecuperation. Our analysis is based on ten years of experience working with families of the disappeared in Mexico, ethnographic research within Mexico’s forensic science system and online interviews conducted with medics and forensic scientists working at the forefront of Mexico City’s pandemic. In the face of increasing risks of viral contagion and death, this article analyses old and new techniques designed to bypass the prohibitions imposed by the state and its monopoly over corpse management and identification.
The handling of the deceased during the COVID-19 pandemic, a case study in France and Switzerland
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented global crisis. To limit the spread of the virus and the associated excess mortality, states and governing bodies have produced a series of regulations and recommendations from a health perspective. The funerary aspects of these directives have reconfigured not only the ways in which the process of dying can be accompanied, but also the management of dead bodies, impacting on the dying, their relatives and professionals in the sector. Since March 2020, the entire process of separation and farewell has been affected, giving rise to public debates about funeral restrictions and the implications for mourning. We carried out a study in France and Switzerland to measure the effects of this crisis, and in particular to explore whether it has involved a shift from a funerary approach to a strictly mortuary one. Have the practices that would normally be observed in non-pandemic times been irrevocably altered? Does this extend to all deaths? Has there been a switch to an exclusively technical handling? Are burial practices still respected? The results of the present study pertain to the ‘first wave’ of spring 2020 and focus on the practices of professionals working in the funeral sector.
This article analyses the management of bodies in Brazil within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its objective is to examine how the confluence of underreporting, inequality and alterations in the forms of classifying and managing bodies has produced a political practice that aims at the mass infection of the living and the quick disposal of the dead. We first present the factors involved in the process of underreporting of the disease and its effects on state registration and regulation of bodies. Our analysis then turns to the cemetery to problematise the dynamics through which inequality and racism are re-actualised and become central aspects of the management of the pandemic in Brazil. We will focus not only on the policies of managing bodies adopted during the pandemic but also on those associated with other historical periods, examining continuities and ruptures, as well as their relationship to long-term processes.
Presumed black immunity to yellow fever and the racial politics of burial labour in 1855 Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia
Michael D. Thompson
Epidemic disease regularly tore through nineteenth-century American cities, triggering public health crises and economic upheaval. These epidemic panics also provoked new racialised labour regimes, affecting the lives of innumerable working people. During yellow fever outbreaks, white authorities and employers preferred workers of colour over ‘unacclimated’ white immigrants, reflecting a common but mistaken belief in black invulnerability. This article chronicles enslaved burial labourers in antebellum Virginia, who leveraged this notion to seize various privileges – and nearly freedom. These episodes demonstrate that black labour, though not always black suffering or lives, mattered immensely to white officials managing these urban crises. Black workers were not mere tools for protecting white wealth and health, however, as they often risked torment and death to capitalise on employers’ desperation for their essential labour. This history exposes racial and socioeconomic divergence between those able to shelter or flee from infection, and those compelled to remain exposed and exploitable.