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

Laura Pennacchietti

Laura Pennacchietti
University of Manchester






Jaca Book and Edizioni Lavoro: African Literature, the Catholic World, and the Deprovincialization of Italian Culture

Catholicism was a major force that shaped the reception and reproduction of cultural products, ideas, and images of the Third world in Italy. This paper examines the two earliest and most significant Italian publishing projects focused on African literature in translation, those of Jaca Book (1975-1986) and Edizioni Lavoro (1986-1996); both, in different ways, linked to the Catholic world. This provides evidence of an important cultural phenomenon, i.e. an interest in, and a sensitivity to Third-world themes and issues which marked several sections of the Catholic world in the 1960s and 1970s. Catholic milieus, together with left-wing milieus, were the most receptive to the realities, the struggles, and the problems of developing countries, and the points of convergence between these milieus represented the most fertile breeding ground for the reception of ideas and appeals coming from the colonial and postcolonial world.
In this period postcolonial literature, including African literature, was acquiring greater significance and visibility in the dominant fields of the world literary system. Jaca Book and Edizioni Lavoro’s projects were thus crucial in opening up the Italian field to writings that represented a distinctive and central element of literary modernity, whose value and significance had not been acknowledged until then in the Italian context. This paper thus reassesses the role of categories of cultural producers traditionally regarded as conservative and backwards, arguing that both publishing projects made a crucial contribution to the innovation and deprovincialization of the Italian literary and cultural scene.



Laura Pennacchietti was recently awarded her PhD in Italian Studies from the University of Manchester. Her research interests lie in the field of twentieth-century Italian culture, history, and the arts. Her doctoral thesis—Translating the Postcolonial. Anglophone Novels in the Italian Literary Marketplace, 1950-2010— examines the Italian response to Anglophone postcolonial literature across the second half of the twentieth century by looking at Italian publishing and translating practices, cultural values, and relationship to the global literary marketplace. She is currently employed as a Research Associate in the AHRC-funded project The Dialectics of Modernity: Modernism, Modernization, and the Arts under European Dictatorships, directed by Francesca Billiani. This research project investigates the Fascist system of the arts, looking at the interconnections between aesthetics and politics in Fascist Italy. Her research therefore engages with the intersections between artistic and cultural production, politics, and the cultural industries.


List of most recent publications

– Pennacchietti, L. 2016. “Translating the heterolingualism of the Nigerian Novel: a Socio-Traductological Perspective on Two Italian Editions of Jagua Nana by Cyprian Ekwrensi”, in Denti, C., Quaquarelli, L. & Reggiani, L. (ed.), Voci della traduzione/Voix de la traduction, mediAzioni 21,

– Pennacchietti, L. 2015. “Gian Carlo Ferretti – Giulia Iannuzzi, Storie di uomini e libri”, Between 9,