Forty-fiVe Days: Emotion, Memory and The fall of Mussolini
My current research explores the collapse and aftermath of the Fascist regime, from the fall of Mussolini on July 25th, 1943 to the disintegration of the Italian state on September 8th. Drawing on sources ranging from police reports and censored letters to memoirs and radio broadcasts, I explore everyday experiences, relationships and behaviors. I look especially at acts of retributive violence, iconoclasm, and public protest to understand how individuals and communities confronted the unsettling legacies of the past twenty years. How did Italians narrate the past twenty years, to themselves and each other? What did Fascism - suddenly consigned to the past tense – mean to them, and how did they explain their own relationship to Mussolini's regime?
I am interested in how historical actors tried to condition how the regime, and the moment in which they were living, would be remembered by future generations, and how this in turn shaped postwar Italian memory politics. I also situate the Italian experience in terms of comparative cases ranging from postwar Germany to post-Soviet Eastern Europe to the contemporary Arab Spring. In December 2015, I presented some of my preliminary conclusions to the American Academy in Rome; you can watch the talk here.
This project is based upon research at institutions including:
- Archivio Centrale dello Stato (Rome)
- Istituto Romano per la Storia d'Italia dal Fascismo alla Resistenza (IRSIFAR, Rome)
- Archivio di Stato di Roma (Rome)
- Biblioteca di Storia Moderna e Contemporanea (Rome)
- Fondazione Ugo Spirito (Rome)
- Istituto Luigi Sturzo (Rome)
- Archivio di Stato di Milano (Milan)
- Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense (Milan)
- Istituto Nazionale per la Storia del Movimento di Liberazione in Italia (INSMLI, Milan)
- Istituto di Storia Contemporanea della Provincia di Pesaro e Urbino (ISCOP, Pesaro)
- Archivio Diaristico Nazionale (Pieve Santo Stefano)
- Archivio di Stato di Como (Como)
- Museo Galimberti (Cuneo)
- Istituto Storico della Resistenza e della Società Contemporanea in Provincia di Cuneo (Cuneo)
- Archivio di Stato di Novara (Novara)
- Archivio di Stato di Sondrio (Sondrio)
- Istituto per la Storia della Resistenza e della Società Contemporanea in Provincia di Alessandria (ISRAL, Alessandria)
- Archivio di Stato di Genova (Genoa)
- Istituto Ligure per la Storia della Resistenza e dell'Età Contemporanea (ILSREC, Genoa)
- Istituto Campano per la Storia della Resistenza (ICSR, Naples)
- Archivio di Stato di Napoli (Naples)
- Istituto per la Storia della Resistenza e della Società contemporanea in provincia di Reggio Emilia (ISTORECO, Reggio Emilia)
- National Archives (College Park, MD)
- Library of Congress (Washington, DC)
The POlitics of Everyday life in Fascist Italy: Outside the state?
I am also co-editor - with Michael Ebner (Syracuse University) and Kate Ferris (University of St. Andrews) - of Outside the State? The Politics of Everyday Life in Fascist Italy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Drawing inspiration from the Alltagsgeschichte school of scholarship on Nazi Germany, as well as related work on the Soviet Union by Sheila Fitzpatrick and others, we seek to transcend elite-driven and cultural histories of the Italian dictatorship, presenting an account that stresses the experiences, subjectivities, and behaviors of ordinary Italians. At the same time, the volume moves beyond conventional social histories of the Fascist period, which are largely devoted to uncovering traces of anti-Fascist resistance and working-class solidarities. Fascism stayed in power for over two decades not only because of propaganda and repression, but also because of everyday interactions, relationships and compromises that often reinforced the regime’s totalitarian vision. Kate Ferris and I presented an overview of the project to the Graduate Seminar at NYU-Florence's Villa La Pietra; the video of our talk is available on their YouTube Channel.
Excavating Modernity: The Roman past in fascist italy
My first book, Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), examines the intersection of ideology, history and archeology, and the idea of Rome (romanità) under Mussolini's regime. I argue that Fascism's appropriation of the classical past should be understood not as an expression of its theatricality or retrograde tendencies, but rather as a literal and figurative excavation of modernity, an expression of the regime’s desire to regenerate and remake Italians through the Roman imperial virtues of discipline, hierarchy and harmony. Across several case studies – in historical scholarship, urban archaeology and museum display – I explore the ways in which Fascist intellectuals approached the Eternal City as a blueprint for contemporary life and a source of dynamic values. This vision of modernity also transcended Italy’s borders, as the legacy of Rome’s “universal empire” provided a foundation for Fascism’s conception of a new European order and overseas empire.
Reviews of Excavating Modernity: