From Myth to Reality and Back Again: The Fascist reading of Garibaldi and the Risorgimento

Bjørn Thomassen, Rosario Forlenza

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article analyzes the elaboration, interpretation and political-instrumental
use of Garibaldi during Fascism and during the transition period toward post-war Republican and democratic Italy. Both Fascism and the political forces of the new Italy employed Garibaldi in an attempt to gain public support and to bolster their claims to historical legitimacy. While regime changes are usually accompanied by a radical dismantling of mythical and ritualistic underpinnings of the former regime’s legitimacy, the Italian transition from Fascism to democracy represented a remarkable case of symbolic
and historical-semantic continuity. The article argues that Fascism elaborated upon the figure on Garibaldi in a way that made alternative future readings and interpretations inherently possible, creating a legacy of polysemic, ambivalent and open-ended memory politics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBulletin of Italian Politics
Volume3
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)263-281
Number of pages18
ISSN1759-3077
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2011
Externally publishedYes

Cite this

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From Myth to Reality and Back Again: The Fascist reading of Garibaldi and the Risorgimento. / Thomassen, Bjørn; Forlenza, Rosario .

In: Bulletin of Italian Politics, Vol. 3, No. 2, 05.05.2011, p. 263-281.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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N2 - This article analyzes the elaboration, interpretation and political-instrumentaluse of Garibaldi during Fascism and during the transition period toward post-war Republican and democratic Italy. Both Fascism and the political forces of the new Italy employed Garibaldi in an attempt to gain public support and to bolster their claims to historical legitimacy. While regime changes are usually accompanied by a radical dismantling of mythical and ritualistic underpinnings of the former regime’s legitimacy, the Italian transition from Fascism to democracy represented a remarkable case of symbolicand historical-semantic continuity. The article argues that Fascism elaborated upon the figure on Garibaldi in a way that made alternative future readings and interpretations inherently possible, creating a legacy of polysemic, ambivalent and open-ended memory politics.

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