Stepping away from the mafia, I found this postcard while we were walking around Erice. While on the one hand it evokes Josephine Baker and her famous and problematic banana skirt, on the other it encapsulates everything I studied in my independent study this past fall.
Italian Unification with the Risorgimento is considered by some colonialist as the south was drawn into northern Italy more or less against its well. As Northern Italy modernized and industrialized, the South was a font of natural resources and agriculture upon which the North depended. Furthermore, Italy also found itself in the throes of a debate in greater Europe: where does Europe end? For many, Italy, Spain, and Greece represent a liminal zone between Europe and Africa. In order for the industrial Northern Italians to aspire to northern ideals, a line is drawn, splitting the peninsula in half somewhere around Rome, Naples, or even Florence depending on the depiction.
In order to rarefy the South, the North has used an easily identifiable semiology and grammatical. The South is pastoral and beautiful. The North is urban (read: civilized) and less beautiful. The South is innocent, the North has civilization.
In this postcard, Sicily is identified by all of its symbols, which deny any of its associations with modern civilization. We see symbols of nature an agriculture with the sun, conch, tree, fruits, fish, and of course Mt. Etna (symbol for the indomitable southerners). The wheel of the Sicilian horse carriage is a quaint gesture to the past and the temple points to the island’s antiquity. Here we see no Baroque cities, no third largest theater in Europe, no Norman mosaics. Instead, the rugged, exotic picturesque.