A nation's demons: The legacy of the 70s in contemporary Italy
Aureli, Andrea Bruno
Marcus, George E.
Doctor of Philosophy
This ethnography addresses how former Italian radical activists of the 70s negotiate their militant past with their present predicament. This is done by comparing and contrasting the public discourse (historical texts and legal proceedings) with the activists' own interpretations of their past. Since most of the historians of these social movement are themselves former activists, their contrasting versions of the period contained in their texts are seen as expressions, at the level of intellectual discourse, of the inherently conflictive legacy of the 70s. It is widely acknowledged that the emergence of left wing armed struggle and the ensuing state repression prevents a balanced evaluation of this period. By examining the "Sofri case", I argue that the emergency legislation adopted by the state to convict members of clandestine organizations, has determined what counts as a normative history of the period. I also argue that such normative implications re-actualize a conservative view of Italian national identity, which sees the state as pastoral authority. I thus suggest that "terrorism" is a symbolic marker consistent with this moralizing project, since, by essentializing the subjectivity of the "terrorists" it also prevents former activists who did not engage in clandestine violence from publicly articulate a balanced version of their own past.
Cultural anthropology; European history