The pasts of the present: World War II memories and the construction of political legitimacy in post-cold war Italy

Bjørn Thomassen, Rosario Forlenza

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In this chapter we discuss the case of Italy and how World War II in the postwar period came to provide the ground for political legitimacy. However, this ground was interpreted very differently by Catholics and Communists, leading to the notion of a “divided nation”. Furthermore, the postwar interpretation of the Resistance movement as the foundation of nationhood and democracy was not in congruence with WW II memories among larger segments of the Italian population. Underneath the postwar consensus, therefore, one could find antagonistic notions of the foundations of political legitimacy and national identity. In particular, the chapter focuses on how WWII memories were taken up again at the demise of the Cold War, starting a new round of debates that to such an extent have shaped Italian political and cultural life during the last two decades. The material discussed consists of political and intellectual controversies over World War II events as these unfolded in the 1990s, with short references also to popular films and books released in the 1990s that stirred heated public debates. We end by indicating the relevance of the Italian case for European debates.
TitelThe Use and Abuse of Memory : Interpreting World War II in Contemporary European Politics
RedaktørerChristian Karner, Bram Mertens
Antal sider20
ForlagTransaction Publishers
Publikationsdato31 aug. 2013
ISBN (Trykt)978-1412851947
StatusUdgivet - 31 aug. 2013

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