On the African War Stage: How Music, Theater, and Hope Saved Italian POWs in Kenya


Elena Bellina (University of Rochester)

During WWII, more than half a million Italian soldiers were captured by the Allies in the Mediterranean and in Africa. Most of them were interned in temporary or permanent camps in East Africa. This paper concentrates on the Italian prisoners of War (POWs) detained in British camps in Kenya between 1940-1947 and the creative activities in which they got involved to escape the trauma of captivity. I especially analyze the POWs’ musical, theatrical, literary, and material culture production, and the gender relations among male prisoners, inside and outside of the camps, through diaries, memoirs, newspapers, magazines, and archival materials.

Part of 27-04 Oral, Written, and Material Narrations of Italian Captivity in WWII , Tuesday, October 19, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm