In The Politics of Memory in the Italian Populist Radical Right, Marianna Griffini examines Italy’s political landscape, following the roots of fascism through to their influence on contemporary politics. Skilfully dissecting nativism, immigration, colonialism and the profound impact of memory on Italian political identities, the book makes an important contribution to scholarship on political history and theory and memory studies, according to Georgios Samaras.
The Politics of Memory in the Italian Populist Radical Right: From Mare Nostrum to Mare Vostrum. Marianna Griffini. Routledge. 2023.
Marianna Griffini’s The Politics of Memory in the Italian Populist Radical Right stands as a thorough examination of Italy’s political landscape, weaving together historical threads and contemporary realities. The book provides a nuanced analysis that dissects the roots of Italian fascism and charts the trajectory of its influence on present-day politics, offering a solid exploration of the nation’s political memory.
Griffini sets the stage for an exploration of how collective memory shapes political ideologies
The eight chapters form a cohesive narrative that progressively deepens the understanding of Italy’s political milieu. Chapter One serves as a poignant introduction, capturing the current state of the Italian radical right and framing the central theme of memory. Griffini sets the stage for an exploration of how collective memory shapes political ideologies, a theme that reverberates throughout the subsequent chapters.
Chapter Two delves into the concept of nativism, contextualising it within both the broader European framework and the specific nuances of Italian politics. This nuanced exploration lays the foundation for comprehending the intricate dance between nativism, populism and the enduring echoes of Italy’s fascist past. Chapter Three, clearly outlines the research methodologies, establishing the scholarly background underpinning the entire work.
Chapter Four posits the emergence of the nation-state and examines the impact of otherisation, offering a lens to comprehend the dynamics of Italian politics. Otherisation, as a concept, illuminates how politicians endeavour to portray certain societal groups as different, often excluding them from the national identity. In this chapter, the analysis effectively traces, in a historiographical manner, the gradual development of this phenomenon over several decades, establishing a connection to fascist movements.
Otherisation, as a concept, illuminates how politicians endeavour to portray certain societal groups as different, often excluding them from the national identity.
The book takes a pivotal turn in Chapter Five, addressing the weighty topic of immigration and the multifaceted challenges it poses. This chapter serves as a bridge, connecting historical narratives with contemporary realities, offering a comprehensive understanding of the role immigration plays in shaping political discourse.
Chapter Six unfolds a detailed analysis of colonialism and its impact on attitudes toward immigration. Griffini’s exploration of colonial pasts and their connection to collective memory, as presented in Chapter Seven, adds a further layer of historical depth, illustrating the enduring influence of historical legacies on present-day political ideologies. The theoretical approach of memory underscores the colonial exploitation of other cultures by Italy. Notably, Griffini highlights how memory could be approached from a different angle in order to humanise and confront Italy’s colonial past, instead of supressing it.
Griffini highlights how memory could be approached from a different angle in order to humanise and confront Italy’s colonial past, instead of supressing it.
The zenith of the book occurs in Chapter Eight, where Griffini articulates the central argument concerning the profound influence of memory on shaping political identities. This segment stands as the magnum opus of the analysis, persuasively contending that the historical omission of specific memories related to both embracing and challenging Italy’s colonial past serves as a catalyst for the resurgence of fascist attitudes. This provides a critical insight into Italy’s seemingly inescapable political patterns.
The historical omission of specific memories related to both embracing and challenging Italy’s colonial past serves as a catalyst for the resurgence of fascist attitudes.
The book not only navigates the complexities of Italian politics but also engages with theoretical debates, contributing valuable insights to the understanding of populism. By elucidating the links between emotionality and the radical right, Griffini demonstrates how political ideologies, when fused with emotional undercurrents, can yield extremist outcomes.
A noteworthy strength of the book is its emphasis on ethnocultural ideas and the notion of belonging to the nation, especially in the context of increased migration within the European Union. The examination of otherisation as a phenomenon serves as a profound analysis, unravelling how Italian voters perceive the intricate role of the nation and how this perception catalyses the rise of radical right movements.
While the discussion between colonial and political theory may initially challenge some readers, it ultimately contributes to the richness of the analysis. The book successfully navigates the fluid boundaries of these theories, illuminating historical concepts that persist in the shadows and continue to shape contemporary political landscapes. However, a clearer bridge between those two concepts would have been useful for readers who are not entirely familiar with all the technical terms explored in the book.
[The book] provides key findings that not only shed light on the surge of the radical right but also offer a template for understanding the intricate political dynamics in other European countries.
The Politics of Memory in the Italian Populist Radical Right emerges not only as an exploration of Italian politics in 2022 but as a timeless contribution to scholarly literature. It provides key findings that not only shed light on the surge of the radical right but also offer a template for understanding the intricate political dynamics in other European countries.
Griffini delves into Italy’s colonial past, shedding light on its historical neglect and the deliberate concealment of past atrocities. This collective memory has been influenced by the infiltration of fascist tendencies into contemporary Italian politics. While the rise of far-right parties was noticeable up until 2022, none matched the achievements of Meloni with her election that year. Griffini’s examination of Italy’s colonial history offers a partial explanation for the limited comprehension of the nation’s past, intricately intertwined with its fascist history.
While the rise of far-right parties was noticeable up until 2022, none matched the achievements of Meloni with her election that year
Also, the book’s refusal to indulge in unnecessary predictions is a testament to its commitment to historical rigor. Given the unpredictable nature of Italian politics, this decision aligns with the broader theme of acknowledging the complexity inherent in the nation’s political trajectory.
In conclusion, despite the potential challenge for some readers in navigating between colonial theory and the concept of memory, the book constitutes an important contribution to scholarship on political history and theory and memory studies. Further research in the field is important for a more profound understanding of the intricate political dynamics unfolding in other European countries, illuminating how the normalisation of the radical right often stems from historical complexities. This book is highly recommended for students exploring Italian politics in 2022 and academic scholars seeking familiarity with historical perspectives shaping the extremes of the political spectrum in Italy.
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