John Foot (University of Bristol, Fernand Braudel Fellow EUI)
"The Archipelago? Writing a History of Post-War Italy"
20 November 2018, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Sala del Capitolo
Chair: Lucy Riall (HEC Professor)
How can we understand and tell the story of post-war Italy? How can we transmit our academic learning and expertise to a wider, non-specialist audience? Is there a master-key for understanding individual countries and their trajectories since 1945?
This talk will aim to address these questions through an analysis of the methodologies and analyses adopted for the book The Archipelago. Italy since 1945 (Bloomsbury, 2018. Laterza (Forthcoming) 2019). It will look at typical tropes used when trying to understand Italy - Italy as 'backward', Italy as 'marginal', Italy as 'lacking' various aspects often attributed to other states - legality, national identity, efficiency, unity.
The talk will also look at the debates between micro- and macro- history, and at academic and non-academic forms of writing and communication. A further key area will be that of chronologies - when are the 'breaks' in national histories and when are the moments of continuity?
The talk will be in the context of an understanding of previous attempts to write histories or studies of post-war Italy, and the dominant influence of Gramscian theory within the formation of many historians both within Italy and abroad.
Academic pressures in many universities preclude or even punish general works aimed at a wider public, and these institutional features driving research and publication. Thus, one of the key ways in which academics and the wider world have been able to interact is being closed down, institutionally, despite emphasis on 'impact' and 'public engagement'. This talk willl also provide some reflections on these trends and their influence on academic research.
About the speaker
John Foot is a British historian specialised on Italian History. His research covers a number of aspects of Italian social history.
He has published on the Italian Labour Mouvement after WWI, popular cultures related to sport (football and cycle racing), the history and memory of the radical psychiatry movement in Italy which eventually closed down the asylums, and more.