Cultural Vocabularies of Eating and Mourning in Southern Italy: Reflections in Film of Contemporary Eating Disorders and Historical Traumas
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This project strives to address the surprisingly high rates of eating disorders (ED) in southern Italy. The high prevalence of ED and the unique composition of psychological determinants among southern Italian women point to a compelling paradox: Given the widely supported theory that the development of eating disorders in a population may be ascribed not only to media-stimulated body image concerns but also to processes of modernization and industrialization, why do women in southern Italy, which has not conformed to or successfully undergone these processes, exhibit relatively high rates of ED? This thesis argues that ED in southern Italy are a symptom of transgenerational transmission of trauma related to collective, South-specific WWII losses. These losses could not be openly mourned because of their conflict with the Resistance myth that sustains WWII memory in the Italian national narrative. To substantiate this claim, I propose that both culture-specific ED pathologies and acclaimed films represent ciphered articulations of this conflict.