Progetti di ricerca

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ITADEMO - Italy and the Birth of Democracy: Symbols, Memory, Culture, 1943-1948

Marie Curie Action: Co-Funding of Regional, National and International Programmes (COFUND) European Seventh Framework Programme


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Ambito disciplinare Macroarea 3

Area scientifica Area 13 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche e pedagogiche

Tipologia finanziamento Altro

Stato progetto Concluso (archiviato)

Data avvio: 3 November 2014

Data termine: 2 November 2016


This project is a detailed case study of the birth of democracy in Italy after World War II. It places human experiences and the formation of meaning in the political processes at the center of democratic politics and its analysis. It uses political anthropology and memory studies to address the subject of democracy from both historical and theoretical perspectives. The project shifts attention away from positivist categories and political norms in favor of the concrete experiential needs of ordinary people. Beyond the institutional and administrative sphere of politics, this project looks into memories, aspirations, expectations, fears and hopes formulated by individuals under conditions of social and personal uncertainty. I am convinced that my research will make an important contribution to the specialist literature on post-war Italy, and will also provide scholars with new approaches to the existential roots of democracy, and to the analysis and the conceptualization of political changes. The project opens up interpretative ideas that apply to other experiences of political transformation in the immediate aftermath of World War II, in Southern Europe in the mid-1970s, in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, and in other cases of "democratic revolutions" (such as the Arab Spring) marked by collective effervescence, civil war, revolutionary mass action, and unpredictability about the outcomes. The first ground of comparison here is the significance of liminal situations – periods of high uncertainty in which social identity and agency are highly fluid and political outcomes indeterminate – as constitutive of social order through the emergence of new meanings, consciousness, understanding, and symbols. A further ground for comparison is the correlation between the weight of a turbulent past (the despotic regime, civil war) and the building of a collective democratic identity in the present.


The main objective of this project is to examine the extent to which the notion of ‘risk’ can be a useful analytical tool in explaining the process of migration, using the example of Romanian migration to Western Europe since 2002. In this project, ‘risk’ is understood as a series of potentially undesirable outcomes, mediated by social interpretation . In order to understand how evaluations of and responses to risk shape the migration process, this study will address ‘risk’ as both an analytical and a normative concept. The applicant will conduct a thorough historical study of Romanian migration before and after 2007, in order to illustrate continuity and change in both the source (Romania) and receiving countries (France and Italy). This study will help establish points of reference in the rapidly growing field of the transnational history of Romanian migration. The first objective of this research project is to understand how the goal of managing the risks of migration influences the policy-making process. A multi-level analysis of policy-makers (EU-bodies, states, institutions, civil society, NGOs, migrants, etc.) will illustrate the complexity of decision-making and will take into account conflict and cooperation between levels. The applicant will also examine how the (geo)political situation surrounding Romania’s entry into the EU shaped the power dynamics between different stakeholders. As decision-making is influenced by risk perception, the second objective is to thoroughly analyse the public and political discourses on migration and its risks. Drawing on cultural theory, according to which ‘risk’ is a socially-constructed phenomenon , this project will focus on the logic underlying perceptions of risk in the French, Italian and Romanian societies. As a third objective, the research will explore the effect of the heightened perception of migration's risks on the social integration of Romanian migrants, with special reference to the local and spatial dimensions. The study will focus on the relations between immigrants and the society of settlement, as well as on the mechanisms that underpin such relations. The applicant will also examine the associational and political participation of migrants and their relations with host institutions, in light of Romanian migrants' access to EU citizenship and as a consequence of local voting rights.

The fourth objective is to analyse how migrants understand and evaluate the notion of ‘risk’ and how they respond to potentially undesirable events (risk aversion, risk-seeking, risk-taking). The applicant will show that migrants’ perceptions of and responses to risk are crucial in shaping the migration process. The fifth objective is to focus on young adults, defined as people between 18 and 35 years of age, who are often perceived by society as being either vulnerable or dangerous or a treasured resource. Using the concept of 'risk culture', this research project will consider young adults’ perceptions of risk-taking, on its dynamics, as well as on the relationships and resources surrounding it. The applicant will also examine the threat that youth migration poses to Romania’s development, i.e. the risk of loosing valuable human capital, and the ways in which stakeholders deal with this situation.

The project approaches the history of Romanian migration from a perspective, that of 'risk', which has not yet been applied to this subject. The latest research shows that analysing migration from a risk perspective that deals with more than just the economic aspects is quite a novel approach. The use of ‘risk’ when looking at migration is relevant when considering both the policy-making process and the migrants’ own experiences. As a part of the recent research using ‘risk’ as a key explanatory notion and focusing primarily on one immigrant group or dealing with policy-making, this project seeks to fill a gap, test a hypothesis and open a new field of research. This study will help to determine the relevance of ‘risk’ in understanding the migration process.



Any dissemination of results related to the project "ITADEMO - Italy and the Birth of Democracy: Symbols, Memory, Culture, 1943-1948" reflects only the author's view and that the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Supervisor: Filippo Focardi