The first part of the article introduces the notion of public memory. It discusses public memory as part of the public sphere, and underlines its role in the costruction of what we may call "cultural traumas". The central part of the article focuses on an exemplary case, that of the representations of the colonial past cisrculating (or not) in the Italian public shere. After the Second World War Italians almost forgot their colonial past. However, in recent years it has started to re-emerge in a variety of new representations, conveyed by different media. The conclusion discusses the moral and political implications ot these different representations of the past, and highlights the special value of representations of the past that help to raise awareness of colonial ideologies. While there are other, conflicting forms of public memory in circulation, this particular kind of memory may construct colonialism as a "cultural trauma".
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