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Matera 1945-1960: the history of a ‘national shame’

McGauley, PC; (2014) Matera 1945-1960: the history of a ‘national shame’. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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This thesis examines how and why the southern Italian city of Matera came to be seen as a national shame and symbol of the southern question in the post-war period. Moreover, it traces the impact that these narratives had on the city’s social and urban history from 1945 to 1960. It draws on methods from the history of nationalism, the history of emotions, the new southern history, and urban history to achieve these aims. A range of primary and secondary sources are examined including documents from the Italian State Archives in Rome and Matera, the US National Archive in Maryland, Italian newspapers and magazines, parliamentary documents and debates, and official newsreel and documentary footage. The first chapter analyses the image of Matera as Other and a symbol of southern Italy’s civiltà contadina featured in Carlo Levi’s post-war bestseller Cristo si è fermato a Eboli. It also assesses the book’s impact in shaping ideas of Matera amongst Italy’s post-war public sphere. The second chapter looks at how and why Matera came to be seen as a national shame in the immediate post-war period. It examines the distinct catholic and communist moral worlds which shaped this notion in a Cold War context. The third chapter investigates the implementation of the first special law for Matera. It assesses the project’s limitations and critiques the existing secondary literature on this topic. Finally, the fourth chapter is a case study of the purpose-built rural village La Martella. It examines how and why Matera and La Martella were used in government propaganda to promote official reforms in southern Italy. The thesis concludes that narratives of national shame and the southern question directly shaped Matera’s urban and social topography post-1945.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Matera 1945-1960: the history of a ‘national shame’
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1430281
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