‘Italy still not culturally integrated’ | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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‘Italy still not culturally integrated’

KARACHI: Despite the passage of 150 years since Italy became a unified geopolitical entity, cultural integration in the country is still not complete.

Pietro Lauretta, cultural attaché at the Italian consulate in Karachi, said this on Friday while delivering a lecture on the ‘150th anniversary of the unification of Italy: celebrating and revisiting patriotic themes’. The lecture was organised by the University of Karachi’s Area Study Centre for Europe on its premises.

The speaker, who is also currently a professor of the Italian language at Karachi University, said Italy was an ancient name and the term denoting a territorial entity similar to modern Italy has been in use since at least the 1st century BC. He said when the country was united as the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, bringing together several smaller states, it was said by Italian thinker Massimo d’Azeglio that ‘we have made Italy; now we must make Italians’, referring to the disparate regional identities that had to be moulded into a common Italian identity. He added that a united Italy was ‘difficult to comprehend for the illiterate masses’ Despite territorial unity, Mr Lauretta said that even today there were 23 different dialects spoken in Italy, while adding that even a hundred years afterunification, the concept of Italy remained vague.

He added that up till the 18th century, Italy faced many waves of invasions by different groups. He described the preunification Italy as ‘politically fragmented but culturally united’. One of the reasons contributing towards unification, said Mr Lauretta, was economic, as a united country would eliminate multiple taxes and tariffs between the kingdoms.

The speaker observed that the birth of united Italy was quite bloody, referring to the many battles that were fought. He said that though the idea behind il Risorgimento or the unification was to create a republic, the initial result was the creation of a kingdom. He saidthe kingdom was ruled in the Napoleonic style, with a strong bureaucracy. Referring to fascism, he said that prior to 1922 fascism existed as a movement only in the north of Italy.

Revealing an interesting fact, Mr Lauretta said that between 1867 when recordkeeping started and 1985, 27 million people had left Italy for greener pastures.

This, he said, was because people felt unification had failed to fulfil its promise. He said that Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci had described il Risorgimento as an ‘unfinished revolution’ as it was a non-agrarian revolution.

Agrarian reform, the speaker said, did not occur in Italy till the 1950s.

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