The story we tell our-selves: renegotiating Fascist Heritage in post-dictatorial Italy

Change log
Bartolini, Flaminia 

What this thesis has demonstrated is twofold: a) it presents how heritage can be used as a tool to interpret the renegotiation of a dictatorial past; b) it identifies how politics uses heritage to (re)construct identity, as well as to influence the heritage-making process when coming to terms with a dictatorial past. These two aspects have been identified firstly by examining the Fascist regime’s uses of the past, as well as how they edited sites and narratives to serve as tools for propaganda. The research has also shown how modern art and architecture supported the regime’s primary need for building consensus, and it has documented the shifts in meaning and use, or lack thereof, of Fascist Heritage sites, and examined how different sites have been renegotiated depending on their degree of perceived ‘Fascistability’. The thesis also conceptualises the scale of heavy state intervention in legacies of the regime, as based on this Ideological Coefficient of Fascistability.

Monuments to past ‘glories’ remain a constant reminder to many of the traumatic memories of a difficult time, while to others they are simply material traces of a once-glorious past. Iconoclasm expresses the need to challenge and publicly question former values, but it fails to interrogate the issue of monumentality, which remains a formidable presence in public spaces. Heritage scholars must find new ways to reframe monuments without any form of iconoclasm, while allowing for a different type of interpretation to be given. At the same time, these objects must also express a very powerful message, so as to interrupt the Fascist monumental rhetoric of order and obedience. In light of the rise of far-right movements in Italy and internationally, and considering how the symbolic power of these monuments can still be exercised and easily instrumentalised, it is therefore crucial to find new ways to disempower memories of such dark times.

Stoddart, Simon
Italian Fascism, Mussolini, Difficult Heritage, Foro Italico, EUR
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge