Social dramas and memory formation: Resistance and the use of the Risorgimento in the Italian politics of memory, 1943–1948

Bjørn Thomassen, Rosario Forlenza

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This article analyses the case of Italy and how the memory of World War II came to provide the ground for political legitimacy and the ideological foundations of post-war democracy. It focuses on the topos of the Resistance against Fascism as a ‘second Risorgimento’, e.g. a national and patriotic war of liberation supported by the entire populace. The article argues that the process of memory formation of the Resistance as a ‘second Risorgimento’ during the period of transition from Fascism to democracy shares the defining features of a rite of passage in the sense originally introduced by Arnold Van Gennep. The article develops a conceptual approach that brings together social science approaches to liminality, transition, and memory studies. Advancing a processual approach to memory formation, the article thus offers an alternative to the still dominant functionalist-presentist approaches to memory, heavily influenced by Durkheim society since the pioneering work of Halbwachs.
TidsskriftHistory and Anthropology
Udgave nummer5
Sider (fra-til)527-548
Antal sider22
StatusUdgivet - 2021


  • Liminality
  • Resistance/second Risorgimento
  • memory formation
  • rites of passage
  • social dramas

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