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“2013 Year of (north) Italian Culture in the United States”... Northern Italian Cultural Hegemony foisted on American Terroni

“2013 Year of (north) Italian Culture in the United States”... Northern Italian Cultural Hegemony foisted on American Terroni

Tom Verso (January 1, 2013)

Neapolitan Pino Aprile wrote, in his ground breaking cultural history of southern Italy “Terroni” ....“Through a cultural lobotomy, the South was deprived of its self-awareness.” ....Similarly, ‘Italy in US 2013’ is the most recent incision in the ongoing Southern Italian historical and cultural lobectomy. ‘Italy in US 2013’ is a celebration of northern Italy’s success, in Aprile’s words....“of depriving the South of historical and cultural awareness – we no longer know who we were.”....‘Italy in US 2013’ carries the assault on Southern history and culture to the near seventeen million Americans of southern-Italian descent; insuring that “[they] no longer know who [they] were” and made to believe that the land of their progenitors [Patria Meridionale] is historically and culturally insignificant. In short, Italy in the context of ‘Italy in US 2013’ means Northern Italy! The FACT that ‘Italy in US 2013’ is a denial of southern Italian history and culture is documented in the publication “Italy in US 2013 – Calendar of Events”; as will be demonstrated in this article.



On December 12, 2012, at a press conference in Washington D.C. the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Guilio Terzi di Dant’Agata (a native of Bergamo, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy near the Swiss border), inaugurated 2013 – The Year of Italian Culture in the United States.”

 “The aim of this initiative is to showcase the best of Italian arts and culture in some forty major American cities...during the press conference, an official calendar of events was released.” (see
However, as will be demonstrated in this article, with all due respect, what Minister Terzi calls “Italian arts and culture” is in fact “Northern Italian arts and culture.” The documentation of this FACT is, as will be demonstrated below, in the “official calendar of events” presented by the Minister at his press conference.
While the immediate purpose of this article is to demonstrate the northern cultural bias of the events described in the “Italy 2013 official calendar of events”, the broader and more significant purpose is to further develop the factual basis of the thesis of northern cultural hegemony.
Discussion of the concept of northern cultural hegemony of the South was initiated in the nineteenth century (e.g. Villari, Franchetti, Sonnio...), was further developed in the early twentieth century by Antonio Gramsci; more recently explored by Jane Schneider et al (Italy’s “Southern Question”); and most recently in Pino Aprile’s very excellent social history of the South Terroni.
In short, this article is not meant as a criticism per se of 2013 – The Year of Italian Culture in the United States”; rather, it is meant to be an empirical contribution to the centuries old discussion of Southern Italian cultural history vis-a-vis the North, and the implications that history has for the near seventeen million Americans of southern-Italian descent.


The year long schedule and description of ‘Italy in US 2013’ events is described in two on-line interlinked publications:
Italy in US 2013 – Calendar of Events
A Year long journey: the Year of Italian Culture in the United States
The ‘Calendar’ site identifies and describes what events will take place, in what month along with a brief description of the event (people, themes, places, etc.). 
The ‘Year long journey’ site provides, in many cases, more detailed descriptions of the ‘Calendar’ captions.
For example, page 59 of the Calendar’s “Cinema and Photography” section indicates that the event “Italian Photographers” featuring the work of photographers in the “Philips Collection” will be held in March 2013 in Washington DC. 
However, the Calendar does not indicate who exactly are the photographers. By going to the ‘Year long journey’ site, one can find the names of the photographers featured in the “Philips Collection”.
Further, by using Google search one can find the biographic information of the photographers such as where they were born, went to school and worked. This biographic information allows one to determine the proportion of photographers in the “Philips Collection” who are from northern Italy and the South.
Also, Google Internet searches provide other types of information. For example, the Calendar indicates that in February there is an event “Italian Women in the Arts” in Washington DC. Neither the 'Calender' nor 'Year long journey' sites indicate the names of the women artist. However, the Internet site by that name list many of the Italian women artist, whom I have included in my itemized list below.
More generally, references in Calendar, Year long journey and Internet searches provide a wealth of biographic, geographic and other information pertaining to events in Italian cultural history allowing one to determine the overall proportions of northern vs. southern culture celebrated in the Italy in US 2013 program.
Below is a page by page analysis of the Art, Music and Theatre, Cinema and Photography, and Italian Language and Literature sections in the publication Italy in US 2013 .

Summary Statistics
In short, the total number of northern artists and artistic references in the "Calendar of Events" is 145, and the total number of references to the South is 19.
This is to say that 88% of the references in the description of events for US 2013 are references to northern persons, places or things, and 12 % are references to the South.
The table below summarizes the number of references and corresponding percentages for each of the four ‘arts’ sections of the US 2013 Calendar considered. Thus, for example, in the ART section of the US 2013 Calendar there are 47 references to the North and 4 to the South.  On a percentage basis 92% of the references are northern and 8% to the South.
North #
South #
Total #
North %
South %
Music and Theatre
Cinema and Photography
Italian Language and Literature
A total of 145 to 20 (88% to 12%) North vs. South references, clearly and unequivocally demonstrating that the 2013 Year of Italian Culture in the US is a case study in northern Italian cultural hegemony of southern Italy.
Clearly Italy in the title Italy in US 2013  means northern Italy to the near exclusion of Italy south of Rome and a cultural hegemony being extended to the near seventeen million Americans of southern Italian descent.

Below is a page by page analysis of the Italy in US 2013 Calendar; the raw data from which the above table was created.

This whole presentation is designed to facilate verification. Any social scientifcally minded reader can either go to any particular page in the 'Calendar' to verify the north/south characteristics I have posited. Or, verify the whole 165 citations, reproduce the counts and summary statistics. Indeed, it is my hope that someone will. Objective social scientific knowledge entails verification of knowledge claims.

The Terroni issue is not just an ideological or aesthetic issue.  It refers to the objective historical and sociolgical reality of Italy.  Not to understand the Terroni issue is not to understand Italy or southern-Italian Americana.  Accordingly, it is imperative that cultural events such as, but not limited to, Italy in US 2013 be given close scrutiny. 

Table Notes:
1. Page numbers refer to pages in Italy in US 2013 – Calendar of Events
2 Numbers in {} are North person, places, events etc. counts; and numbers in [ ] are South counts.
3. The counts are continuous from North count 1 on Calendar page 25 to North count 145 on Calendar page 70.  Southern counts are interspaced between North.
4. Summary counts for each section (Art, Music and Theater, etc,) corresponding to those in the Summary Table above are provided at the end of each table.

Page 25
The Medici Collection of northern artists.
Caravaggio and his Legacy – spent some time in south as fugitive but predominately northern Italian artist.
Page 26
Roso Fiorentino (Florence)
Piero della Francesca (Tuscany)
Arezzo goldsmith industry.
Page 27
Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance”
Galleria degli Uffizi (Florence)
Paolo Veronese (Venice)
Page 28
De Fornaris Collection:
Morandi (Bologna)
Casorati (Piedmont)  
Burri (Perugia), 
Penone (Bologna)
Postoletto (Piedmont)
Griffa (Piedmont)
Pier Paolo Pasolini (Bologna)
Page 29
“Keiat: Visionaria” – Born and studied in Apulia. However, her webpage ( list fourteen cities in Europe, American and Asia where her work has shown – not one South of Rome!
Piero della Francesca (Tuscany)
Page 30
Bernini’s Terracotta’s (born in Naples; father a Florentine took him to Rome at age eight)
Micheangelo (Tuscany)
Page 31
Mattia Preti (Calabria)
Bartolomeo & Giapeco Caporali (Perugia)
Page 32
Caravaggio – spent some time in south as fugitive but predominately northern Italian artist.
Italian Women in the Arts:
Elisabetta Gut (Rome)
Lavinia Fontana (Bologna)
Mirella Bentivoglio (Milan)
Rosalba Carriera (Venice)
Giovanna Garzoni (Marche),
Elisabetta Sirani (Bologna)
Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome)
Barbara Longhi (Ravenna)
Fede Galizia (Milan)
Sofonisba Anguissola (Lombardy)
Plautilla Nelli (Florence)
Marco Nereo Rotelli (Venice)
Salvatore Emblema (Naples)
Page 33
“Italian Way” Dante Alighieri (Florence)
“The Dancing Satyr” (Sicily)
“Of Heaven and Earth: 500 Years of Italian Painting”
Bellini (Venice)
Botticelli (Florence)
Domenichino (Bologna)
Guardi (Venice)
Rosa (Naples)
Titian (Veneto)
Page 34
Giorgio De Chirico (Greek born worked in North Italy)
Velazquez (Spanish born worked in North Italy)
“Artistic Heritage of (Modena)
Page 35
Franco Azzini (born in Calabria went North age 14)
Bice Lazzari (Venice)
Sandro Chia (Florence)
Page 36
Caravaggio – spent some time in south as fugitive but predominately northern Italian artist.
Page 37
Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome)
Totals for ART:          {47} North       [4] South
Music and Theatre
Page 39
Cremonese Strings (Cremona in Lombardy)
Giuseppe Verdi (Parma)
Page 40
Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi (Florence)
Massimiliano Finazzer Flory (Giulia)
Verdi (Parma)
Page 41
Roberto Cani (Milan)
Ottorino Respighi (Bologna)
Page 42
Domenico Cimarosa (Naples)
Giovanni Sollima (Palermo)
 Matteo Levaggi (Torino)
Page 43
Verdi (Parma)
Daniele Belardinelli (Marche)
Page 44
Verdi (Parma)
Puccini (Tuscany)
Page 45
Cremona City Quartet
Roberto Abbado (Milan)
Emanuele Arciuli (Lecce)
Nicola Campogranade (Turin)
Gioachino Rossini (Marche)
Page 46
Franceso Casorati (Turin)
Emanuele Arciuli (Apulia)
Nicola Campogrand (Turin)
Verdi (Parma)
Francesca Parvizyar (Milano – twitter)
Page 47
Cremona Strings
Puccini (Tuscany)
Maurizio Pollini (Milan)
Page 48
Nicola Campogrande (Turin)
Verdi (Parma)
Page 49
Cremona Strings
Verdi (Parma)
Fabio Luisi (Genoa)
Page 50
Pavarotti (Modena)
Verdi (Parma)
Page 51
Alessandro Scarlatti (Palermo)
Puccini (Tuscany)
Spoleto Festival
Page 52
Bollani (Milan)
Rava (Trieste)
Fresu (Sardinia)
Verdi (Parma)
Page 53
Piccolo Teatro di Milano
Eduardo De Filippo (Naples)
Toni Sevillo (Naples)
Page 54
Pino Daniele (Naples)
Massimo Gallotta (Salerno)
Page 55
Teatro San Carlo di Napoli
Mauro Pagani (Lombardy)
Verdi (Parma)
Page 56
Teatro Regio of Parma
Teatro alla Scala Academy (Milan)
Rossini (Marche)
Puccini (Tuscany)
Verdi (Parma)
Bracco Foundation (Milan)
Mauro Bigonzetti (Rome)
                    Totals for Music and Theater:           {47} North           [9] South

Cinema and Photography
Page 58
Pasolini (Bologna)
Istituto Luce Cinecitta (Rome)
Caravaggio (Milan)
Longoni (Milano)
Nastasi (Milano)
Hemingway in Veneto
Page 59
Istituto Capri nel Mondo
Philips Collection:
Gabriele Basilico (Milano)
Gianni Berengo Gardin (Genoa)
Mario Cresci (Genoa)
Renato D’Agostin (Venice)
Andrea Galvani (Verona)
Luigi Ghirri (Emilia-Romagna)
Mimmo Jodice (Naples)
Nino Migliori (Bologna)
Francesco Nonino (Friuli-Veneziani)
Bianca Sforni (Milan)
Franco Vaccari (Modena)
Paolo Ventura (Milan)
Page 60
Dante Alighieri (Florence)
Lamberto Lambertini (Naples)
Page 61
Pasolini (Bologna)
New Italian Cinema:
Giuseppe Capotondi (Milan)
Francesca Comencini (Rome)
Emanuele Crialese (Rome)
Leonardo di Costanzo (Naples)
Gianni di Gregorio (Rome)
Matteo Garrone (Rome)
Luca Guadagnino (Sicily)
Mario Martone (Naples)
Andrea Molaioli (Rome)
Susanna Nicchiarelli (Rome)
Ferzan Ozpetek (Rome)
Silvio Soldini (Milan)
Roberta Torre (Milan)
Marco Tullio Giordana (Milan)
Page 62
Cinecitta Luce (Rome)
Marco Bellocchio (Emilia-Romagna)
            Totals for Cinema and Photography:  {32} North [6] South
Italian Language and Literature
Page 64
Pasolini (Bologna)
Danta Ferretti (Marche)
Poetry on a Bus:
Montale (Genoa)
Pavase (Piedmont)
Ungaretti (Tuscany)
Page 65
Italian Modernism (Milan, Turin, Genoa)
Machiavelli (Florence)
Page 66
Dacia Maraini (Tuscany)
AISLLI “maternal speech Dante” (Tuscany)
Clara Sereni (Rome)
Page 67
Machiavelli (Florence)
Page 68
Dante Alighieri (Florence)
Marco Cappelli (Rome)
Marco Nereo Rotelli (Venice)
Page 69
Boccaccio (Tuscany)
Gaetano Salvemini (Apulia)
Machiavelli (Florence)
Page 70
Italo Calvino (Liguria)
Primo Levi (Turin)
Leopardi (Marche)
          Totals for Italian Language and Literature:  {19} North  [1] South


A Delicious Irony

At the above mentioned Washington press conference inaugurating 2013 – The Year of Italian Culture in the United States, it was noted that:
“This project, organized under the auspices of the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, aims at showcasing Italian creativity and culture both in our artistic heritage...[and] cultural foundations spanning the Classical age and the Renaissance up to present times.”
“Italy”, in this context, as has been shown above, is in fact ‘northern Italy. How ironic: the President of Italy whose name is “Napolitano”, was born in Naples and graduate of University of Naples Federico II (founded in 1224 ) should play so prominent a role in promoting northern Italian culture at the expense of the South.

However, the role of southern intellectuals and other prominent personage in foisting northern cultural hegemony on the South since the early nineteenth century has been obvious and discussed extensively by scholars such as Gramsci and many others. President Napolitano follows that, if I may say so with due respect for his office, sad tradition.

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You're forgetting that

You're forgetting that Northern Italy has a bigger population than the South, and when you lump Central Italy in with it you get a "North" that contains ~65% of the country's population. So the 50/50 distribution you're hoping to see is demographically impossible.

Also, you made some mistakes/questionable choices: Emanuele Arciuli is Southern not Northern; Franco Azzini is also Southern by birth; Italo Calvino is half Ligurian and half Sardinian; Primo Levi is Jewish; and Giorgio De Chirico, Velazquez, Ferzan Ozpetek and Francesca Parvizyar are foreigners who in no way can be considered Northern Italian.

If you take all that into account, the disparity isn't that big or unusual. Mostly because of natural resources[1], the North/Center has been more populated and successful than the South, which means more history, art and culture to celebrate. Regional variation like that exists all around Europe[2], but you don't see the Northern English or Southern French or Western Austrians complaining the way you do.

I'm the first to defend Southern Italy against Northern bias, but you have to be realistic about it.



not just place of birth


Thank you for your informed and cogent comments…. First, ‘place-of-birth’ was not the sole criterion that I used for my classification system. I wrote: “biographic, geographic and other information allowing one to determine the overall proportions of northern vs. southern culture.”…. Place of birth is a starting point but other factors have to be taken into consideration when assigning an individual artist to a geographic cultural milieu. For example, Keziat I noted was “Born and studied in Apulia. However, her webpage ( list fourteen cities in Europe, American and Asia where her work has shown – not one South of Rome!” Thus, it is reasonable not to identify her as a ‘southern artist’. More generally, all your exceptions to my southern artist list are based on place of birth. But, all spent the majority of their lives and worked in the North (so far as I can determine).… In sum, while one may differ on some of the individuals, on balance I think my proportion 88% to 12% North vs. South will not vary significantly. Let us say that corrections to my list result in an 80/20 split. Would that negate my thesis “2013 Year of Italian Culture in the U.S.” is in fact a Year of Northern Italian Culture in southern-Italian America? Frankly, I’m sure the northern Italian tourist industry is behind this “Year”…. Finally, regarding the population difference between the North and South; one should always keep in mind that difference is the result of the northern persecution of the South that lead to the great emigration; which brings me back to my more generally thesis of Northern Hegemony… Thanks again. Best, Tom Verso

So Keziat was born, raised

So Keziat was born, raised and studied art in Southern Italy, but because her work has "only" shown in famous cities around the world, and (apparently) not anywhere in the South, that makes her Northern Italian? How many American artists' work shows outside of famous cities like NY and LA? That's just how the art world is. And what's your reasoning for Emanuele Arciuli? His Wikipedia page says he's played the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and he's currently professor at Bari Music Conservatory. Still not southern enough for you?

I think you're too quick to blame everything on the North. Geography has been a much bigger factor in Southern Italy's problems than anything else. Poor farmland, not enough rain, no navigable rivers, no coal or water resources for industry -- all that translates to poverty, less population growth and more emigration. "Northern persecution" might have made things slightly worse, but you make it sound like it was the Holocaust or the displacement of Native Americans, which is ridiculous.

An 80/20 split would definitely start to get closer to the 65/35 split in population.

Keziat, Arciuli, etc

Regarding Keziat, you write“How many American artists' work shows outside of famous cities like NY and LA? That's just how the art world is.” Thus you imply Naples and Palermo are not considered “famous cities” where Italian artist would want to be shown. That goes to my thesis about the secondary status the South…..The fact that she did not show in the South indicates that she does not think her work is a manifestation of southern culture. If it did I should think she would be anxious to show her work to Southerners…..Regarding Emanuele Arciuli, I struggled with where to place him. He has a very diverse background. However, in the 2013 Calendar of Events he is playing with Abbado a Campograne piece, so I assume he as a reputation of working with northern artist and playing northern works – so at least of the 2013 he is associated with the North….Again, one can quibble about this or that artist and some would be moved from one category to the other. However, the overall proportion of 88% to 12% would not change significantly….Regarding “blaming” the North: in terms of this analysis of the 2013 program there is no blame. It is an empirical study demonstrating that there is little in the Year that appeals to southern-Italian Americans in terms of their southern Italian cultural history…. Regarding the “holocaust” and “American Indians” I certainly did not write or imply anything of the sort. Again, it is strictly an empirical issue. If one adds the emigration numbers for the years 1870-1920 to the know population numbers for those years and puts those numbers into established demographic population growth formulas with know rates of population growth, one arrives at a number that represents what the current population of the South would be if there had been no mass emigration. That number would be very close to the current population of the North if not exceeding it. Again, an empirical issue, an historic demographer could do the computations on spreadsheet in a very short time…Nevertheless, I don’t think any comparison of the North vs. South is complete without taking into consideration the very well documented North de facto imposed emigration (e.g. “Darkest Italy” by John Dickie). Best, Tom Verso


You probably should have read more than just the 1st paragraph of Keziat's bio because her work HAS shown in Southern Italy:


"In 2010 the video animation Memoria di un Folle wins the fifth edition of MAGMART, the international video art festival presented in collaboration with PAN, Palazzo delle Arti di Napoli; made in stop motion, it is acquired by the permanent collection of CAM, the Contemporary Art Museum of Casoria (Italy)."


But even if it hadn't, you don't know her or what she thinks. Maybe she's "anxious" to show her "Southern culture" to the world, so she goes where all the galleries, art patrons, big audiences and media are, just like every other artist everywhere. I don't see you (or anyone) complaining about the "secondary status" of Boston or Atlanta or Seattle or any other perfectly nice American cities that aren't as "famous" as NY and LA when it comes to arts and culture. Have a little perspective.


And don't tell me that population is "strictly an empirical issue". That was my original point! You're the one who started blaming Southern emigration on "Northern persecution", as if Southerners had been expelled from Italy by evil Northern...Nazis?...Colonialists?.... And btw, huge numbers of people emigrated from the North too at around the same time, so that can't be the only cause of population differences, and it also undermines your "persecution" argument.

Keziat etc.

Thank you for pointing the Naples show, I missed it. I didn’t realize that the Bio entry on her webpage had a scroll bar and only read the first page. However, considering all the cities she showed in (I count near 20) there is only one reference South of Rome. I’m not sure how she could be considered a southern Artist. However, even if I move her to the South category, that does not make a significant statistical impact on the whole. That would change the North column from 145 to 144 and the South from 20 to 21; and the percentages would change from 88 to 87 and 12 to 13 North South respectively. Clearly the conclusion that the “Year 2013” program is essentially a northern show in a country with predominately southern-Italian Americans....Again, there is a very large body of history works about the brutality of the Northern Armies in the South after 1861. If interested, again I would recommend Dickie's book and go from there...Finally, I hope you don't mind my saying so; but I find your tone very aggressive. I appreciate and enjoy differences of opinion and the give and take of debate. But there is no reason to be aggressive and rude when discussing art shows - there no great morality at stake here.


It's because you clearly have an agenda and you won't listen to anything else. Keziat is a Southern Italian artist because she's from the South. Period. It doesn't matter where her work has shown. Most of the cities are outside of Italy, so if we went by your "logic", she wouldn't even be Italian!


Like I said before, if you fixed that and all your other mistakes and weird choices, the percentages would be closer to the population numbers. But then you wouldn't have anything to complain about.

How would someone who is

How would someone who is born, raised, and studied in the South not be a southerner? you choose to discount what created the artist they are, for where they have traveled after? So the only way to be Southern is to be born, raised, educated, and worked exlusively in the South? Does anyone who has stepped foot in Parma for a day automatically become disqualified? Should she not speak a word that isn't nnapulitano? Is it her fault that she hasn't been displayed in the South? We do not know, it could be southern galleries don't approach her. I don't know of many artists who approach and pick and choose where their art is shown. I think it is fairly clear that the north's wealth has led to the luxury of more artistic and cultural pursuits, it is not a "hegemony".stop pandering for some kind of "repression sympathy", embrace the fact that Italian-Americans are getting paid any mind in the US. do you think the northerners (i really wish we could leave these titles behind and just be italians, italian-americans, but i digress) should protest that all italian restaurants serve marinara sauce and it is an unfair sauce representation? smh lol

More on Keziat and "repression sympathy"

Fabio, Thank you for your informed and interesting comment. First let me say that any classification system entails some degree of subjective judgment about what category into which an individual entity should be placed. In my undertaking of the analysis 0f “Italy 2013”, I had to make 165 judgments based on limited information. The basis of the judgment was to what extent the artist or work manifested respectively northern or southern culture. For example, consider the photographic works of Latizia Battaglia and Enzio Sellerio; both unequivocally exude the people and culture of the South. Indeed, what gave rise to my project was, to my mind, their stunning absence from the list of photographers in the “Italy 2013” program. Thus, as I went through the 165 entities in my list it was this paradigm that I had in mind. Simply be of the South was not the basis of my judgment for my purpose. Rather, to what extent the artist or the work was a manifestation of southern culture. Based on my limited knowledge of Keziat, it did not seem to me that she met the test of ‘manifestation of southern culture.’ However, as I have repeatedly stated; if I am wrong, i.e. people who know more about her and her work judge her otherwise, then fine move her from the North category to the South. Ultimately, I am trying to make a judgment about the “Italy 2013” project “as a whole”; i.e. to what extent is the program predominately a manifestation of northern culture being promoted in nation where near 17 million people are descended from the South. As I indicated above, changing Keziat’s classification does not significantly change the overall predominate proportion of Northern artistry in the “Italy 2013”. I have not addressed the question why there is such a disproportionate representation of the North other than to note that it is consistent with an historic pattern of post Risorgimento northern hegemony. Second, regarding your comments about “repression sympathy” I disagree. Any objective historic and social scientific study of post-Risorgimento South cannot ignore the well-documented reality of hegemony (aka “Southern Question”) and its implications for southern society. To reduce the works of great historians and social scientist like Dickie, Moe, Schneider, etc. to “repression sympathy” is to do a disservice to their impeccable scholarship. And that history is part of southern-Italian American history. You and others may not be interested in that aspect of our history or reject their conclusion; that is fine, but that would be your subjective judgment. Unlike natural science, social science can never completely escape a modicum of subjectivity. Best Tom Verso