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Research Article

The Poetry of Belonging

Episodic Memory and Italian and South African Shades

Chris Mann    Rhodes University, South Africa    



The essay develops a postcolonial perspective on Italy and South Africa based on the writer’s experience of rural developmental work among predominantly Zulu-speaking people and on five main points of connection between that specific locale and the Italian cultural horizon, from Roman times to World War II: Language, Accounting, Spirituality, War and Literature. Central to this cross-cultural encounter is the writer’s direct and intimate involvement in both cultural spheres and the way this is representative of the working of ‘episodic memory’, i.e. the psychic mechanism by which moments and people of the past are made to live again in one’s inner world in the guise of ‘shades’ and crucially contribute to shape one’s sense of belonging. This is a phenomenon that literature has always known, and which this essay exemplifies also by means of original poems that complement the theoretical insights exposed on pre- and post-colonial Italy and its connection with contemporary South Africa.

Dec. 23, 2016
Aug. 5, 2016

Keywords: ZuluDanteShadesSouth AfricaMemoryWorld War II

Copyright: © 2016 Chris Mann. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.