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

Bjørn Thomassen, Rosario Forlenza

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHistory and Anthropology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Feb 2021


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

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