Foto del docente

Carlo De Maria

Associate Professor

Department of History and Cultures

Academic discipline: M-STO/04 Contemporary History



1) The history of Italian and European socialism, with particular attention to the biographical method, generational scansions and gender studies;

2) the rules and statutes of the laic and catholic associations in the XIXth-XXth centuries;

3) the models of social and pedagogical intervention and community work in Europe between the two World Wars and after the Second World War;

4) the local autonomies and the “territories of political action” in contemporary Italy;

5) the crisis of the welfare state, the third sector and subsidiarity between the XXth and XXIst centuries;

6) aspects of the institutional and social history of the fascist regime, such as the administration of the libraries, the development of the industrial-technical institutes and the administrative channels of the anti-Jewish persecution.


Notes on the research activity

My research activity followed various (but closely related) topics. First of all, the history of Italian and European socialism, related both to the study of the laic and catholic associations between the XIXth-XXth centuries, and to the models of the social and pedagogical intervention in the post-war period. In addition to the main research topics (socialism-associationism-social intervention), the investigation of some aspects of the political-institutional history of the era of Mussolini’s dictatorship and of the Republican Italy. As for fascism, I mention the work on the administration of the libraries (undertaken during the post-doctoral studies at the Special School for Archivists and Librarians of Rome and published in 2016 in the monograph Le biblioteche nell’Italia fascista), the one on the industrial-technical institutes (carried out in the main frame of the project “Bologna: Una città per gli archivi”, 2007-2011, during which I reorganized the archives of the Aldini-Valeriani educational institute), and the research on the administrative channels of the anti-Jewish persecution, in which the application of anti-Semitic legislation is analyzed through the perspective of the center/periphery relationship within the political and administrative machine of the regime. On the topic of the Republican Italy, my research interests focus on the system of the local autonomies and the role played by political parties in relation to autonomy.

My production is certainly characterized by biographical works and therefore by the monographs on the anarchist intellectual Camillo Berneri (FrancoAngeli, 2004), on one of the leading exponents of Italian reformism, Alessandro Schiavi (Clueb, 2008, awarded by SISSCO in 2009) and on the Swiss pedagogist Margherita Zoebeli (Viella, 2015). A different slant, however, characterizes the monograph on the rules of mutual aid in Romagna (Clueb, 2008), research that received the Piancastelli Award in Forlì, and other works, both monographic and not, dedicated to the cultures of the lower classes and the political-institutional history of cities, municipalities and territories.

The critical editions of epistolaries, diaries and selected essays cross many themes of my research and, in particular, the reconstruction of biographical and generational events within the history of socialism. For example, when Alessandro Schiavi's biography was published, I went through a work of years dedicated to the curation of his epistolary and diaries (Lacaita, 2003-2004), and to the inventory and digitization of a selection of his archive. Something similar happened in my studies on the Berneri family and, therefore, on the experience and networks of the anti-fascist exile (I refer to the anthology of essays and the epistolary dedicated to Giovanna Caleffi Berneri, Un seme sotto la neve, Biblioteca Panizzi, 2010). Critical editions, on the other hand, are crucial to the overall development of my research activity: reconstruction and interpretation are always connected to a patient and careful analysis on various archive sources and rare printed texts.

I belong to a generation that has experienced, in the years of its growth, the crisis of the parties and their ideologies. The end of the “First Republic” parties has marked the gradual exhaustion of a historiographic canon until then particularly rich in Italy: the history of the (own) parties, or a historiography often inspired or suggested by party structures. In fact, very rarely an “extraneous” ideological tradition, political party or leader was taken into consideration. From this phase of transition a new line of studies arose, which opened up roughly between the Nineties and the 2000s, in which the interest, long prevalent in Italy, for the political apparatus and mass organizations attenuated, leaving room for the discovery of biographical and political experiences outside or on the fringes of the traditional party dimension: individual stories, friendship networks and mutual support that had been substantially forgotten a few years before; authors, journals and militant circles of the XIXth and XXth centuries long marginalized by the classics of Marxism because “heretics” or “eccentric”.

To the end of the political-party approach (political history from the point of view of party history) corresponded therefore the increasingly frequent choice of the biographical method, since then essentially minor in the historiographic outline of our country. In short, there was a transition from “structures” to “actors”.

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