La questione del Mezzogiorno si è accesa, diventando tema del confronto politico anche in questa complicata legislatura. In realtà si tratta di un problema permanente della politica e del confronto pubblico, che ritorna ciclicamente nell’agenda del Paese sin dall’unificazione, quando la nazione appena fondata combatté la sua prima guerra proprio nell’ex Regno delle Due Sicilie. Dagli anni novanta del Novecento però, anche come reazione all’antimeridionalismo leghista, si è venuta affermando una vulgata che contesta in radice il processo di unificazione nazionale, mitizzando in chiave sudista il governo borbonico delle regioni meridionali. Le idee chiave di questa vulgata si basano su una triplice rivendicazione: il Sud, un tempo felice, sarebbe stato penalizzato dall’unificazione, resa possibile da una violenza brutale; occorre quindi conoscere la sua vera storia, occultata dalla casta politico-accademica, ispirata da vincitori; solo questa duplice lotta potrà far riemergere il Mezzogiorno, dopo un secolo e oltre di sfruttamento e di marginalità. Queste tendenze presero definitivamente forza proprio a cavallo del centocinquantesimo anniversario dell’unificazione, nel 2011. Il risultato è stato il dilagare dei portavoce del sudismo e del nuovo borbonismo. Opinionisti e giornalisti hanno negli ultimi anni pubblicato interventi a catena, spesso con esiti notevoli. Ne è derivata anche la scelta di alcuni gruppi politici, per la prima volta dall’Unità d’Italia, di assumere queste posizioni, giungendo addirittura a proporle nelle istituzioni. La mozione per far istituire nelle regioni meridionali una giornata a ricordo delle vittime dell’unificazione, di fatto una interpretazione stragista dell’unificazione nel Mezzogiorno fu lanciata in grande stile, e poi bloccata da una grande mobilitazione di studiosi e intellettuali di tutta Italia, diretta dalle società degli storici con un dibattito intenso ed efficace, quanto inedito. Rimane però la questione di fondo: quali sono le coordinate che consentono oggi una lettura equilibrata e scientificamente seria della formazione dell’Italia unita? Non è forse inutile ricordare che una corretta visione del presente, così come una delineazione di un futuro possibile e auspicabile, non può e non deve basarsi sulla manipolazione e mistificazione del passato ma sul rispetto, invece, della verità di ciò che è accaduto. I saggi qui raccolti analizzano alcuni punti-chiave del processo di unificazione, facendo pulizia di molte mitizzazioni e tentando di fissare dei punti fermi che possano costituire una sintesi problematica indirizzata a dialogare col mondo scientifico e col discorso pubblico. Allo stesso tempo, questo numero non ha nessuna pretesa di completezza, proprio perché gli autori sono consapevoli che la ricca tradizione storiografica sulla questione del Mezzogiorno nonché le significative ricerche in corso, testimonianza di un interesse mai venuto meno all’interno della comunità degli studiosi, non sono facilmente riducibili a sintesi. L’obiettivo di queste pagine, dunque, non è quello di sancire una sola legittima storia, ma di verificare le condizioni di legittimità a partire dalle quali tentare di elevare toni e contenuti del dibattito civile sulla storia del nostro Paese.
Borbonismo. Discorso pubblico e problemi storiografici. Un confronto (1989-2019)
Francesco Benigno, Carmine Pinto
This volume of Meridiana examines some key points of the unification process, cleaning up many myths and trying to set fixed points that can constitute a problematic synthesis to dialogue with the scientific world and with the public discourse. It is an attempt to re-establish the confrontation on the relationship between Southern Italy and Unification, avoiding falling into the fantasies of a certain revisionism, but also moving on to the ground of partisan political commitment. In this direction, the interventions proposed by Meridiana analyze some points and some problems often used in the public discourse by the southern claim, but only to place them in their historical context, verifying their features without making them prisoners of the re-elaboration and of the political needs of the present.
Keywords: Neo-Bourbonism; Risorgimento; Kingdom of Two Sicilies
La rottura con la società civile come causa del crollo borbonico
The revisionist Bourbon vulgate attributes the end of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to an international conspiracy, to foreign conquest, or to the betrayal of the army and naval officers. The essay, in reverse, claims that the main cause of the collapse was the gradually widening fracture between the dynasty and southern civil society. This growing distrust derived from the blind reactionary politics of the regime, based on confessionalism, and completely closed to any hypothesis of liberal reform or constitution. Moreover, it was inclined to rely on censorship, police control of the press and associations, the prohibition of any expression of free thought. This created amongst the Neapolitan élites a discomfort, which then turned into resistance and opposition. It is a very interesting case of loss of consent, something unparalleled in Europe at that time, with the possible exception of the little later disaffection of the Russian élite from the Tsarist regime.
Keywords: Bourbon Neapolitan regime; Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; Risorgimento; Censorship
Economia e società: il divario Nord-Sud all’Unità
With the avail of the most recent results from research in economic history, the essay analyses the conditions of Southern Italy around the time of Unification in comparison with the Centre-North, for what regards both economic and social indicators. In income and in the pre-conditions of development, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was certainly not the most advanced state of the Italian peninsula, as instead a recent popular literature argues; on the contrary, it was actually the most backward one. Furthermore, Southern Italy appears to have been burdened by internal inequality, between the rich and the poor, higher than in the rest of Italy; such inequality was in turn supported by extractive institutions, and by subsequent strategies of the southern ruling elite. Of course, there were some exceptions, either at the local or sub-sectoral level. However, on the whole, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was far away from the threshold of autonomous industrial take-off; less than ever it could be regarded as one the most industrialized countries of that time, or even only boast good institutions and an efficient administration. In view of this, we must ask ourselves how come that the fallacious popular literature in favour of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies is growing so successful.
Keywords: Italy’s unification; Regional inequality; Social conditions; Bourbonism
La «famosa invasione» dei piemontesi in Sicilia
It tells of a highly successful reactionary rhetoric that in May 1860 in Sicily there was an invasion by a foreign army. The Mille who followed General Garibaldi were actually blood-thirsty mercenaries paid by Freemasonry or some foreign nation. The terrified Sicilians suffered this invasion. From that moment on, Sicily from happy and rich land turned into hell. In this essay instead we tell the story from the point of view of the protagonists of the time. It will be explained that Sicily had lived a long period of armed opposition in Naples during which it had built the idea of a revolutionary island in the European collective imagination. And this image was the daughter of his intellectuals, like Michele Amari, who were always in opposition, first as independence, then as Sicilian nationalists and finally as Piedmontese and Italians. Not only were intellectuals almost all anti-Bourbon, but also a large part of the aristocracy, the clergy and the class of bankers and traders. In this essay we will try to trace a profile of the Mille and the Picciotti who followed them, explaining that they were almost all young bourgeois, students, traders, landowners and artisans. Concluding with an inversion of the rhetoric of conquest: it is not the Piedmontese who occupied Sicily, but the opposite: it was the Sicilians who conquered Piedmont and Italy.
Keywords: Reactionary rhetoric; Invasion; Opposition; Collective imagination; Intellectuals
The purpose of this article is to discuss the role of liberal and unified southern political groups in the key passages of the conflict fought in the South during the final crisis of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the National Unification: the national revolution of 1860, the Bourbon insurrection of the 1861, the crisis of 1862, and the Italian counteroffensive of 1863. The aim is to understand how they interpreted and managed the encounter between the ancient southern civil conflict and national unification. The role of southern political groups was central in deciding the passage of the South into the new state. The Neapolitan groups welded their conceptual tools and their visions of southern history, within the general action of Italian nationalism. Moreover, they always managed to maintain the support of the elites and provincial groups that had joined the unification, even in the most complicated moments of the southern crisis. Finally, precisely because of the dramatic experience of the long conflict against the Bourbon regime, they were compacted in the decisive moments, making their national pact a decisive component of unification in the South. Keywords: Civil War; National Revolution; Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; Italian Unification
The paper is a critical investigation of the origins and fortunes (including recent developments) of the discourse of delegitimisation of the unification plebiscites carried out on the 21st and 22nd October 1860 in the Two Sicilies. It pays particular attention to the case study of the mainland provinces of the ex-Bourbon Reign. The intent is to consider these voting practices as a historically unique method of political apprenticeship and mobilisation of the popular classes. The profile of these practices was as much participative and inclusive (including subjects who were normally excluded from the electoral body, such as women and minors) as it was holistic, non-deliberative and marked by a personalisation of politics that was incarnated in monocratic and charismatic figures. An adequate understanding of the southern plebiscite must not ignore, firstly, an analysis that is positioned in the context of the coeval and subsequent analogue experiences in Europe (and more generally the democratised electoral dynamics between the 18th and 19th centuries). Secondly, it must be read from the perspective of the long and articulated process of «electoral civilisation», that is, the definition of the technology and practices of suffrage intended to preclude political violence, channelling and ordering the otherwise broken exercise of popular sovereignty.
Keywords: Plebiscites; Two Sicilies; Italian Risorgimento; Bourbonism
The Pontelandolfo massacre is one of the most successful themes of the recent neo-Bourbon rhetoric. In the general context of the brigandage war, it was a minor episode, which lasted a few days, and with a relatively limited number of deaths. Despite this, the episode went from being a marginal event of the first history of Italy united, to a story, and then a myth, of the legitimist and now neo-Bourbon rhetoric. In the last ten years, the two countries have been at the centre of a heated debate, as well as the subject of scientific research. Above all, several authors have turned Pontelandolfo into the place of southern martyrdom, coming to theorize a genocide. Through hasty and inaccurate reconstructions and the forced use of some sources, this narrative had its conceptual strong point in proposing an exponentially larger number of victims than that demonstrated by the sources, even comparing the story to the massacres of Marzabotto or Stazzema. From here, the episode turned into a massacre of hundreds, or thousands, of civilians killed by wicked soldiers and thirsting for revenge. Therefore, the quantification of the number of deaths appears to be an essential aspect to justify, deconstruct, or simply understand the myth of Pontelandolfo. The article proposes an estimate, based on unpublished sources and an extended rereading of those already known, as well as through the comparison with testimonies and archival documents still unknown.
Keywords: Pontelandolfo; Brigandage; War; Unification
In the framework of the so-called neoborbonismo the figure of the brigand has been lately identified in terms of «Southern patriot» and as a cultural or even ethnographical heritage of the Neapolitan patriotism. By challenging this argument, the essay proposes to analyse if and to what extent the ideological construction of this heroic icon constituted a characterizing feature of the anti-unitarian discourse. By applying the methods of cultural history and by considering a wide range of printed sources, intertwined with some archival sources, the essay deals with the political debate that accompanied the conflict in the Italian southern provinces. The essay claims that during the exile of Francesco II of the Two Sicilies, in the early 1860s, the legitimist and counter-revolutionary propaganda kept a much more ambiguous attitude towards brigands. At first, Neapolitan writers and foreign observers oscillate between some feeble efforts of idealization and a general attempt to provide a political interpretation to the guerrilla warfare. Afterwards, they denounce the persistence of brigandage as a purely criminal phenomenon, trying by that to prove the weakness of the new Kingdom of Italy in matters of public order. More evident traces of romanticisation and «nationalization» of the brigand are rather to be found in the opposite field, precisely in the Risorgimento culture.
Keywords: Brigandage; Bourbonism; Neapolitan patriotism
In this article, I analyze the social and political production of inequalities implied in eviction policies in the context of Milan (Italy). I suggest that eviction, and first of all institutionalized hospitality policies activated mainly as public support for evicted families, represent instead a dispositive for social exclusion. In this sense, hospitality seems to represent an ambiguous and complex set of public policies, social practices, cultural representations and symbolic aspects aimed at producing a hierarchical taxonomy of forms of citizenship. In the first part of the article, through a review of the existing literature on the topic, I take into account hospitality with a range of anthropological concepts. In the second part, I investigate the historical process (1884-2016) producing a local specificity in the public management of hospitality policies for evicted. In conclusion, I present some ethnographic case studies – with a focus on mother and child communities – that show the ambiguity of hospitality policies in Milan.
Keywords: Hospitality; Eviction; Milan; Anthropology
The present essay proposes an original reading of Christ Stopped at Eboli, applying textual analysis to several aspects of Carlo Levi’s 1945 book on his confinement in Lucania in 1935. The rich narration both of those primitive villages and of the author’s experience there is brought into relief in antifascist writing during the Resistance in Florence occupied by the Germans. The political denunciation of the extreme backwardness of the South during fascist government expands to a strong critique of long-standing statism and to a proposal for the autonomy of Southern Italy communities, represented as an archaic Peasant Civilization cut off from History and from the State. The present analysis brings to light both an ideological weakness of these interpretative categories and their interesting derivation from the ideas of Gustav Jung. At certain points, Levi narrates Lucania with an anthropologically relativistic excellent sensibility. Last but not least, his literary theory of Invention of Truth actually explains a properly subjective poetics, which brings the book close to the ethnographic problematics of Writing Culture.
Keywords: Carlo Levi; Italy’s Southern Question; Resistance Literature; Writing Culture
The essay, based on the analysis of many documents from several public and private archives (particularly the Cassa del Mezzogiorno’s Archive, recently open to the scholars), aims at outlining the industrialization in the Basento Valley, Basilicata. It is one of the poorest regions of Southern Italy, that Manlio Rossi Doria called «the bone», as opposed to «the meat». It explores the socio-economic aspects of the process, the role played by the political parties, trade unions and public agencies, and finally by public and private undertakings. The chemical industry of Val Basento ends in the mid-1970s, in the context of the global and Italian crisis, like all the other chemical and petrochemical factories in Southern Italy. The specificity of the «Basilicata case» can be seen in the fact that it was not a coastal settlement. The author tries to exceed the common opinion, according to this type of industrialization is like a «white elephant», researching the elements of the modernization, which the factory introduce in the local context.
Keywords: Chemical industry; Basilicata; White elephant; Cassa per il Mezzogiorno
The article is a review of Viviana Mellone’s book Napoli 1848, il movimento radicale e la rivoluzione, published by Franco Angeli in 2017. It aims at underlining the importance of the Neapolitan experience among the Europeans revolutions of 1848, while the traditional historiography describes it as an experience of minor importance in comparison with the ones in Paris, Vienna or Milan. To do so, Viviana Mellone analyses, on one hand, a group of «radical liberals» from Calabria deploying their political activity in the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; on the other, she considers the city of Naples as a physical and political space that participates as a protagonist in the constitutional experience. As far as the methodology is concerned, the author uses the concept of pre-political to take into account not only the projects and laws directly discussed in 1848 debate, but also the wider world of popular expectations. Viviana Mellone’s book manages to throw light on the Mediterranean contribution to the political ideas of 1848, and to clarify that a comparison between Naples and other European capitals is not only possible, but also necessary to understand the complexity of the phenomenon.
Keywords: Radicalism; 1848 constitutions; Risorgimento; Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; Liberalism