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Event Details

Mon, February 05, 2024

18:00 – 19:30

NYU Florence - Villa la Pietra
Via Bolognese 120
50139 Florence, Italy

A dialogue with Jessica L. Harris, American Academy in Rome, moderated by Benedicta Djumpah, NYU Florence

, In her talk, Jessica L. Harris will discuss the relationship between African American women, Italy, and the media in connection with the issue of belonging during the late 1960s and 70s as well as in the 2010s through a dual analysis: first, looking at Italian print media depictions of African American model and actress Donyale Luna and second, looking at To Rome for Love (2018), a Bravo produced television reality series that follows five African American women as they travel to Italy’s capital to find love with the guidance of romance expert Diann Valentine, herself an African American female. In particular, Harris will be illustrating a crucial aspect of the historical and contemporary relationship that Italy has with race—the continuities between how women of African descent have been and still are being treated in Italian society, and their effect on perceptions of belonging. More specifically, the racist rhetoric and stereotypes that had inflicted the Italian nation since its inception, and that gained significant strength and currency during the country’s colonial endeavors and under Fascist rule, continued and continue to influence Italian thinking, perceptions, and understandings of Blackness in republican Italy.

In collaboration with Black History Month Florence.

Featured Biographies

Jessica L. Harris


Jessica L. Harris is the recipient of the 2024 Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies at the American Academy in Rome and Assistant Professor in the Department of History at St. John’s University. Her current project explores the place of female Blackness in post-Fascist Italy through the examination of the positionality of African American female entertainers in Italian cultural products in the second half of the twentieth century. Jessica’s publications include Italian Women’s Experiences with American Consumer Culture, 1945-1975: The Italian Mrs. Consumer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and articles in Annali d’Italianistica, Modern Italy, and Imago. Studi di cinema e media.