The perception and representation of landscape are not natural facts but are cultural constructions of human agents. In this chapter, I aim at deconstructing the role of pre-classical archaeology of Eastern Mediterranean in the process of Italian nation building between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. In particular, I focus on how a substantial group of Italian intellectuals deployed archeological discoveries to construct the Mediterranean as a representational space, which eventually served as a platform for their nationalistic political discourses. To this end, I discuss the spreading of these new conceptions in the Italian cultural debate at large. A prominent figure in this debate was Giuseppe Sergi. By reconstructing his views on the connections between national identity and biology, I demonstrate the considerable performative effect of the Mediterranean as a symbolic space and source of meaning on Italian culture. Furthermore, I argue that this new role of the Mediterranean resulted from a negotiation between the archaeological discovery of pre-classical past and the political aspirations of those scholars who opposed Italian foreign and interior politics of the period.
Part of the book: Mediterranean Identities