Alessandra Montalbano is an Assistant Professor of Italian at the University of Alabama. She received her PhD in Italian Studies from New York University and her laurea in philosophy from the Università di Verona. Her recent and forthcoming publications engage with issues ranging from victim-centered narratives of terrorism, to kidnapping victims’ experience of captivity, and the underworld of the Italian Republic. Other publications explore her interests in body, language, gender, and life writing, including studies of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Dacia Maraini, and contemporary Italian feminism. She is currently writing a book on the phenomenon of ransom kidnapping in Italy.
The Trauma of Captivity in Ransom Kidnapping
My study analyzes memoirs written by the victims of ransom kidnapping in Italy—a phenomenon linked to organized crime and banditry that destabilized the country for over twenty years (1969–1998) with nearly 700 victims. Through the lens of literary criticism and trauma studies, my paper examines the impact that the isolation of captivity and the traumatic bond with the warders had on the language and rhetoric of these accounts. It also sheds light on the confessional narratives of the kidnap victim memoir as a form of resistance against the power of the abductors and as a means of rising civic awareness. My paper will explore several literary testimonies, showing how the memory of captivity of those snatched by the country’s underworld challenges and reshapes how we remember modern Italy.