Religion(s) and Cultural Production(s) of the Italian Diaspora(s)

Cecilia Schwartz

Cecilia Schwartz
Stockholm University




Deserts and Oases: the Mediation of the Italian Colonisation of North Africa as worldmaking.

In the early 1930s, the Swedish writer, researcher and foreign correspondent Gunhild Bergh (Gävle 1888– Rome 1961) undertook several journeys to the Italian colonies in North Africa: she visited regions and places such as Tripolitania, Cirenaica, Kufra. At that time, the area was inaccessible for ordinary travelers. In order to even be able to reach there, Bergh had to travel with Italian troop convoys, in military vehicles that were especially prepared for the desert. As the first Swedish visitor of these places, she depicts them in a series of articles and reportages published in Swedish newspapers and magazines. The explicit aim was to describe the development of these North African countries under the Italian regime, but also to study, as mentioned in the preamble of one of the articles: “the Muslims who are the main antagonists to the Italian government in these provinces”. In my paper, I will examine how the pious Bergh – who had converted to Catholicism in 1924 and was involved in several ecclesiastical activities in Rome – conveyed her impressions of the fascist regime’s colonization of the area to a Swedish readership. More specifically, the focus will be on Bergh’s worldmaking of the North African colonies, with a particular attention given to her representations of the Italian colonizers and the Muslim population. Following Neumann and Zierold (2010), I will concentrate on three aspects of worldmaking related to national stereotyping in travelogues: 1) the semanticization of space; 2) the constellation of characters and the metonymization of the cultural other; 3) the melodramatic pattern. Moreover, the paper will briefly reflect on the cultural embedment of these images as well as their interplay with Bergh’s own photos which accompanied the articles.


In recent years Cecilia Schwartz has been interested in various aspects of literary mediation and intercultural communication. She has published studies of the literary flow between Sweden and Italy, case studies in the Swedish and international reception of Italian writers and articles on the complex dynamics in the process of literary mediation. Her current research focuses on intercultural actors – such as translators, introducers, literary agents, editors – and their influence over the Italian literature in Sweden and how it has been introduced and received in the Swedish literary system. Another area of interest is the construction of the Nordic – “nordicity” – and how it manifests itself in modern Italian prose, especially in travel writing and the emerging migrant literature. She coordinates a research collaboration between Stockholm University and Sapienza Università di Roma, and she is also a member of their college for international graduate school specializing in gender studies.


List of most recent publications

– Schwartz, C. 2017. “Le impronte del traduttore: un’analisi della traduzione svedese de I Malavoglia di Giovanni Verga”, in Revue Romane (forthcoming).

– Benson, K., Cedergren, M. & Schwartz, C. (red.) 2016a. Moderna språk, nr 2.

– Cedergren, M. & Schwartz, C. 2016b. “From comparative literature to the study of mediators”, in Moderna Språk, 110(2), pp. i-x.

– Schwartz, C. 2016c. “Introducing Italy, 1948–1968: the importance of symbolic capital and position of literary mediators in the semiperiphery”, in Moderna Språk, 2, pp. 75–107.

– Schwartz, C. 2015a. “All’ombra di Quasimodo: la ricezione di Montale in Svezia”, in Otto/Novecento.

– Schwartz, C. 2015b. “Montale svedese”, in Bollettino di italianistica.

– Schwartz, C. 2014a. “Reflections. Auto-images and hetero-images in the travel writing of Mario Soldati and Giorgio Manganelli”, in Bollettino C.I.R.V.I, Torino: Centro Interuniversitario di Ricerche sul Viaggio in Italia.

– Schwartz, C. 2014b. “Made in Italy. Il (ri)lancio della letteratura italiana in Svezia”, in Kwartalnik neofilologiczny, Wydział I Nauk Humanistycznych i Społecznych PAN, Społeczna Akademia Nauk w Łodzi, pp. 450–477.

– Schwartz, C. 2012a. “L’età d’oro della letteratura italiana in Svezia: 1945-1975”, in XVIII Skandinaviska Romanistkongressen, Göteborg, 2011.

– Schwartz, C. 2012b. “Classici italiani in Svezia”, in Bollettino di italianistica, Roma: Carocci. n. 1, pp. 116–130.

– Di Nicola, L. & Schwartz, C. (red.) 2013a. Libri in viaggio. Classici italiani in Svezia, Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, Romanica Stockholmiensia.

– Schwartz, C. 2013b. “Agenti segreti. Alcuni profili della mediazione culturale tra l’Italia e la Svezia”, in Libri in viaggio. Classici italiani in Svezia, Di Nicola, L. & Schwartz, C. (red.) Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, Romanica Stockholmiensia, pp. 107–126.

– Schwartz, C. 2013c.”Elenco bibliografico delle opere italiane in traduzione svedese 1900–1999″, in Libri in viaggio. Classici italiani in Svezia, Di Nicola, L. & Schwartz, C. (red.) Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis. Romanica Stockholmiensia, pp. 141–174.

– Schwartz, C. 2013d. “Från Pinocchio till Enaiatollah. Nedslag i den italienska realismens historia”, in I Det sköna med skönlitteraturen III, Stockholm: Norstedts.

– Tchehoff, I., Bardel, C., Nystedt, J., Schwartz, C., Walecka-Garbalinska, M. (red.) 2011a. Omaggio a Luminiţa Beiu-Paladi/Hommage à Luminiţa Beiu-Paladi, Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, Romanica Stockholmiensia, 28.

– Schwartz, C. 2011b. “Alberto Moravia in Svezia”, in I Omaggio a Luminiţa Beiu-Paladi/Hommage à Luminiţa Beiu-Paladi, Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, Romanica Stockholmiensia, 28.

– Schwartz, C. 2011c. “Raccontare la Groenlandia negli anni zero: Nel bianco di Simona Vinci”, in Carte di viaggio. Studi di lingua e letteratura italiana, Pisa-Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore, pp. 101-108.

– Schwartz, C. 2010. “Da Gulla a Guillou. Tre decenni di letteratura svedese in Italia”, in Actes du XVIIe Congrès des romanistes scandinaves, Tampere 12-15 August 2008.

– Schwartz, C. 2009. “Gianni Rodari e la Svezia”, in I Terre scandinave in terre di Asti, Atti del 1° Convegno Internazionale, 25-27 November 2004, pp. 68–76.