Inventing Italian Nationhood in Asia
May 1 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
- This event has passed.
Date: 1st May, 2019
Time: 1 PM
Speaker: Professor Giuseppe Gazzola, Associate Professor, Stony Brook University
The talk examines how the figure of Marco Polo as the quintessential European traveller and discoverer was constructed, and how his figure was pivotal in conceiving an alternative form of colonial contact.
The global resonance of Marco Polo is a relatively recent phenomenon; even if his Livre des Merveilles was known and appreciated in early modern times, the diffusion of the book gained traction only around the 1870s, with the almost contemporary publication of critical editions in English and in Italian. The construction of the myth of Polo (as well as the myth of the other exceptional ‘Italian’ explorer and discoverer, Christopher Columbus) was artfully assembled by the cultural apparatus of the newborn Italian state through, among other things, the creation of the Italian Geographical Society, in order to affirm an Italian primacy in the history of world exploration.
In the absence of the possibility of an Italian colonial venture, the figure of Marco Polo offered a cultural and intellectual framework for the development of an alternative colonial ideology.