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Doctoral dissertation project of Saskia Kroonenberg

On the Mother Tongue in a Globalizing World, or Where Read Gramsci Today? (working title)

In my project I intend to give a contemporary postcolonial and new materialist reading of the Italian Language Question. After the national unification in 1861, Italy was deeply fragmented in terms of its cultures, languages and habits. Thus, in order to create cohesion, all of the peninsula’s inhabitants had to learn one and the same language: Italian (fiorentino, the Florentine dialect). In other words, to become one people, the Italians had to adopt a new ‘mother tongue’.

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) criticized the national imposition of the Italian language, which went hand in hand with the domination of the southern part of the peninsula. By building on Gramsci’s analysis of this ‘internal colony’ of Italy, I investigate the relation between (national) language and territory from a postcolonial perspective, today. I draw a line between the thoughts of Gramsci, his international postcolonial legacy, and contemporary postcolonial/new materialist theories and literatures which redefine relations between language and matter.

I intend to move beyond the European idea that identity equals language, while addressing more fundamental questions on human subjectivity in a globalizing world, and our being embodied and embedded within it.

Keywords: Italian studies, postcolonial theory, immanence, mother tongue, new materialist philosophies


Short biography

Saskia Kroonenberg is a doctoral fellow in the EU-funded Marie Curie programme of the Graduate School for the Humanities in Cologne. She is currently a visiting scholar at Utrecht University at the Department of Media and Culture Studies.

Her dissertation is supervised by Prof. Martin Becker (University of Cologne), Prof. Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht University) and Prof. Tatiana Crivelli (University of Zürich). Saskia’s research interests lie at the intersection of Italian Literature, Postcolonial and Gender Studies, and Philosophy of Language, focusing in particular on the role of language in ethically rethinking ‘our’ relation with each other and the world.

Saskia graduated cum laude and with an Honours distinction for a Bachelor in Italian Literature and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. At the same university, she completed two Masters: one in Italian Literary Studies and one in Philosophy. Besides having published a number of articles, both in- and outside of academia, she has been a presenter and co-organizer of several international symposia and conferences, and a guest writer for Atria (Dutch Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History). Moreover, she also performed as a dancer, exhibited her photography and sometimes presents her poetic writings.

Contact: s.kroonenberg(at)uni-koeln.de



KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Herdenk: vrouwen en fascisme", in: Atria, 4 May 2020, https://atria.nl/nieuws-publicaties/herdenk-vrouwen-en-fascisme/

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “La genealogia della madre: Maria Drago e la ‘lingua della mamma’”, in: Carte Italiane, 12, 1, 2019, 35-50, https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2bq1j688#main

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Zorgen, koken, wassen: de oplossingen voor onze ecologische automutilatie”, in: Atria, 8 January 2019, https://atria.nl/nieuws-publicaties/feminisme/feminisme-21ste-eeuw/zorgen-koken-wassen-de-oplossingen-voor-onze-ecologische-automutilatie/

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “De kracht van de verbeelding”, in: Atria, 25 September 2018, https://atria.nl/nieuws-publicaties/feminisme/feminisme-20e-eeuw/de-kracht-van-de-verbeelding/

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “De Italiaanse eenwording al femminile. De maatschappelijke rol van de vrouw in Mazzini’s Doveri dell’uomo en de educatie van de taal”, in: Historica, 41, 1, 2018, 7-12.

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Alessandro Portelli e le memorie delle Fosse Ardeatine”, in: Notiziario della Società di Dante Alighieri Comitato di Utrecht, 27, 2, 2017, 9-10.

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Lapt Renzi de grondwet aan zijn laars?”, in: DeFusie, 28 November 2016, http://defusie.net/lapt-renzi-de-grondwet-aan-zijn-laars/


Conferences and Presentations

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Antonio Gramsci e gli studi postcoloniali in Italia”, 05 November 2020, guest lecture, University of Zurich

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Forgetting Gramsci”, 22 September 2020, AHRC International Conference, University of Cambridge

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Italiaans feminisme en Luisa Muraro’s Symbolische orde van de moeder”, 31 January 2020, Concerning Maternity, University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “A Poetic Intervention on Life Before Birth”, 12-14 June 2019, Summer School on Philosophy and Psychoanalysis: “Icone del desiderio”, Palazzo Arese Borromeo, Cesano Maderno, Italy.

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “It’s not Youth, it’s Us. Youth Suicides and Rosi Braidotti’s Posthuman”, 23-25 November 2017, Euroacademia’s 6th International Forum of Critical Studies: “Asking Big Questions Again”, Auditorium of the Agora Cultural Centre, Lucca, Italy.

Organiser of “Ruimtelijk Inzicht: De Ruimte in Perspectief” (Spatial Awareness: Space in Perspective), 12 February 2017, Interdisciplinary symposium, De Ruimte, Amsterdam.

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Più alto del mare e la responsabilità dell’intellettuale impegnato”, 31 March 2017, Organiser & Presenter of International symposium: La memoria culturale della Resistenza, University of Amsterdam

KROONENBERG, Saskia, “Toekomst in de Talen (A Future in Languages)”, 25 April 2015, Organiser & Presenter of Symposium on the future and purpose of Language Studies, University of Amsterdam.



Cover photo: Illustration by Chiara De Marco, cover of the volume Future, edited by Igiaba Scego, effequ, 2019 // Portrait photo: Patric Fouad

a.r.t.e.s. EUmanities has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 713600.

Call: H2020-MSCA-COFUND-2015 | Proposal: 713600 – artes EUmanities
CORDIS: http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/203182_de.html