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Mara Josi


Mara Josi is a FWO Postdoctoral Researcher at Ghent University. Since her PhD at the University of Cambridge (2017-2021), she has been dealing with the investigation of national, supranational, and transnational recollections of historical events in Italian 20th and 21st-century literature and culture. Her interest in such a field is the outcome of an almost decade-long engagement with Italian Holocaust culture and literary writings devoted to the processes of discrimination and persecution in Italy during the Fascist dictatorship, the Italian Social Republic, and the Nazi occupation. Mara’s research agenda aligns itself with the commitment of the few remaining survivors from that era to ensuring that society keeps the memory of discrimination, persecution, deportation, and mass murder alive and relevant, even—or especially—in the absence of direct witnesses.

Mara’s first monograph, Rome, 16 October 1943. History, Memory, Literature (Legenda: 2023), considers the largest single round-up and deportation of Jews from Italy during the German occupation of 1943-45, which took place in Rome in October 1943. It examines Italian cultural memory of the Roman round-up through the unexplored perspective of literary writings. It uses methods of cultural memory studies to analyse the influence of literature on collective and individual memory. It demonstrates that the literary texts dedicated to the Roman round-up have been bearers of historical awareness, and channels of memory; not only outcomes of remembrance but also active ingredients in the process of forging cultural memory.

Mara’s new, current project reorients the study of Italian Holocaust-related literary production by defining and investigating a new category of it: “the literature of hiding”, which consists of texts by Jewish authors that bear witness to the experience of living in hiding to escape deportation. Her project examines the extent to which “the literature of hiding” can reshape the understanding and recollection of discrimination and persecution in Italy and broaden the discourse of the transmission and recollection of Holocaust-related experiences in Italy.

Before joining Ghent University, she was an IRC Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Dublin (2021-2022) and a lecturer at the University of Manchester (2022-2023).


Department of Literary Studies
Ghent University
Blandijnberg 2
9000 Ghent