The recent histories of Italy and Somalia are closely linked. Italy colonized Somalia from the end of the 19th century to 1941, and held the territory by UN mandate from 1950 to 1960. Italy is also among the destination countries of the Somali diaspora, which increased in 1991 after civil war. Nonetheless, this colonial and postcolonial cultural encounter has often been neglected. Critically evaluating Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of ‘minor literature’, as well as drawing on postcolonial literary studies, The Somali Within analyses the processes of linguistic and cultural translation and self-translation, the political engagement with race, gender, class and religious discrimination, and the complex strategies of belonging and unbelonging at work in the literary works in Italian by authors of Somali origins. Brioni proposes that the ‘minor’ Somali Italian connection might offer a major insight into the transnational dimension of contemporary ‘Italian’ literature and ‘Somali’ culture.
Simone Brioni is Assistant Professor at the Department of European Languages, Literatures, and Cultures – Stony Brook University.