Black Archive Alliance brochure

This is the brochure from the December 6th Presentation of the Black Archive Alliance Volume II presented at Le Murate Art District. Black archive Alliance is a Villa Romana project in collaboration with Black History Month Florence.

This is the brochure from the December 6th Presentation of the Black Archive Alliance Volume II presented at Le Murate Art District. Black archive Alliance is a Villa Romana project in collaboration with Black History Month Florence.


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Project presentation_

Black Archive Alliance Volume II

A Villa Romana project in collaboration with Black History Month


Venerdì 6 Dicembre ore 18-19

Le Murate Art District

We are pleased to welcome you to the public presentation of a small series of

research projects conducted in several archives located in the Florentine

territory. This research offers us insights into the history that links Florence to the

African continent and to Afro-Descendant people and cultures. The presentation

of the second volume of the Black Archive Alliance will be an opportunity for the

public to learn about the project in a phase of development, anticipating the

catalog that will be presented in February 2020 within the Black History Month

Florence program.


Started in 2018 Black Archive Alliance is a research and training project that aims to

highlight a selection of documents that reflect the realities and histories of African

populations, their diaspora and their representation across in a series of archives and

public and private collections. The first edition created a virtual map of this archival

presence in the city with a catalog that aims to support future research by providing

perspectives that foster reflection.

Second edition

The second edition of the project was carried out with a tutoring format with teachers

and scholars in tandem with students guiding their research within the network of

Florentine archives established with the first edition as well as a few new sites to the

project. The "mentors" followed a small group of students in the development of short

research projects and writing with the final outcome consisting in in the realization of a

text which will be published in the second edition of the catalog in 2020. This edition,

elaborated over several phases consists of a research period, a public presentation

event and finally an exhibition dedicated to a selection of the newly commissioned

research and the presentation of the final catalog.

Mentors and affiliations:

Maria Antonia Rinaldi; Director of Masters in Art History and Museum Studies;

Studio Arts College International

Angelica Pesarini; Prof. Black Italia; NYU Florence

Ingrid Greenfield; Scholar and Assistant to the director; Villa I Tatti

Debora Spini; Prof. Political Science, Philosophy and Women’s Studies; Syracuse

University Florence

Sasha Perugini; Director Syracuse University Florence

Lorenzo Publici; Prof. Italian Modern History; Santa Reparata International School

of Art and Università degli Studi Firenze

Agnes Stillger; PHD Candidate LMU Munich, Co-Curator; Villa Romana


Ladan Savar, MICA/SACI

Nina Vitale, MICA/SACI

Anthony Quesen, MICA/SACI

Brian Rush, SRISA

Kemiya Searles, Syracuse University Florence

Mila Pingin, SACI

Polina Nazarova, SACI

Anna Cuciurean-Zapan, New York University Florence

Clara Hillis, New York University Florence



Two Ivory Tusks in a Medici Collection


Nina Vitale (MICA/SACI)

Ladan Savar (MICA/SACI)


Ingrid Greenfield, (Villa I Tatti)

Research site:

Palazzo Pitti, Tesoro dei Granduchi

This presentation will focus on two ivory tusks now in the Palazzo Pitti’s ‘Tesoro dei

Granduchi,’ sculpted into side-blown horns by artists in the kingdom of Kongo and

acquired by the Medici in the mid-sixteenth century. The elaborate geometric motifs

and intersecting orthogonal patterns are Kongolese designs that appeared not only on

the surface of ivories, but also in rock paintings and engravings, terracotta pottery,

woven textiles, and even scarification patterns on skin. After direct contact with the

Portuguese in the late fifteen century, as the Central African ruling class gradually began

to identify as a Christian aristocracy, the presentation of prestige objects like these

carved ivories was part of the Kongo kingdom’s evolving diplomatic agenda in which the

exchange of luxurious gifts played an important role in building political alliances

between African and European rulers and states. Though we currently know little about

exactly how these particular African objects reached Italy in the early modern period,

extra-European objects like these ivories were certainly valued by early modern Italian

elites for display in their collections, their beauty and strangeness signaling the wealth

and power of their owners.


Territory in the image and image territory: The Italian invasion in Ethiopia through the

lens of the geographer (1935-1937)


Anthony Quesen (MICA/SACI)


Agnes Stillger,( Villa Romana)

Research site:

Istituto Geografico Militare

The research project focuses on photography as a tool of military cartography for the

preparation of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 and the immediate documentation

and manifestation in geographical maps. In a small collection of private photo albums in

the archive of the Istituto Geografico Militare, the professional and private views of the

geographers merge when surveying Ethiopian territory. A subjective narration of the

occupation process spins through the albums in which the landscape becomes a

witness: Almost innocent panoramic shots with careful topographical notes are followed

by the documentation of temporary interventions such as military assemblies, refugee

camps, exposed war trophies and rocket ramps. The success of the military enterprise is

finally reflected in photographs of the permanent monuments, buildings and technical

infrastructures of a ‘modern’ occupier.


Andrea Aguyar and the Defense of the Roman Republic


Brian Rush (SRISA)


Lorenzo Pubblici (SRISA/ Università degli Studi Firenze)

Research Site:

Archivio del Risorgimento

Andrea Aguyar was born into slavery in Montevideo, Uruguay in the early 1800’s. His

exact date of birth and parents are unknown. Aguyar met Garibaldi during the civil war

of Uruguay in which both fought for the Liberal Colorado’s. After the civil war, Garibaldi

went to Brazil with his new-found companion, Andrea Aguyar to continue liberating

slaves. In 1848, Garibaldi returned to Italy with Aguyar by his side, after he proved

himself on the battlefield many times. Aguyar was commonly known for fighting with a

lasso while riding horseback. He would lasso his enemies off of their horses in the field

of battle and is said to have saved Garibaldi numerous times on the battlefield. Andrea

Aguyar lost his life while defending “The Roman Republic” from a French invasion after

a nearby bomb exploded. He gave his life for Italy to defend Rome from French

occupation. Andrea Aguyar was a hero that believed in the idea of a Republic and

fought for it until the very end.


Giorgio La Pira, African Students and Contemporary Florence


Kemiya Searles (Syracuse University Florence)


Debora Spini (Syracuse University Florence)

Sasha Perugini (Syracuse University Florence)

Research Site: Personal Archive Antonella Bundu/Centro Internazionale Degli Studenti

Giorgio La Pira

My research focuses on the past history with the politics surrounding African students during

Giorgio La Pira’s mayorship. Consigliere Comunale Antonella Bundu plays a role in my research

as her parents met through this scholarship program bridging the gap between the politics of

the 60s and the contemporary political moment in Florence. To conclude, I discuss the methods

and strategies of the past of getting different cultures together and e difficulty in applying those

strategies since La Pira’s mayorship.


Searching for Africa in the collections of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana


Mila Pingin (SACI)

Polina Nazarova (SACI)


Maria Antonia Rinaldi (SACI)

Research Site:

Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana

The Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, opened in 1571 is formed by many different

collections of manuscripts, papyri and first edition books. Due to the complexity of the

way how the manuscripts and books are cataloged at the Laurenziana, in the following

students start to research in the Orientale collection, wanted by Grand Duke Ferdinando

I, where there is a section of Ethiopian manuscripts. In the research, classic authors who

wrote about Africa as the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century B.C.E.) will be taken in

consideration as well the geographical maps in the collection of the Grand Duke Cosimo

III that are now on display in the Biblioteca Laurenziana.


Images and Narratives


Clara Hillis (NYU Florence)


Angelica Pesarini (NYU Florence)

Research Site:

Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo

My research in the Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo focuses on

images and narratives that capture the imposing nature of Italian colonialism and the

resulting alienation experienced by indigenous African peoples. Through an assessment

of photographs as well as captions, I seek to articulate pro-colonialist narratives and

practices, as well as Italy's voyeuristic approach to the colonies and their people.


African women through Italian photography


Anna Cuciurean-Zapan (NYU Florence)


Angelica Pesarini (NYU Florence)

Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo

My research in the Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo focuses on the

portrayal of African women through Italian photography. I am interested in the ways in

which the photographic lens in the hands of the colonizer displays the dehumanization

and animalization of colonized populations emblematic of the European colonial era.

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