Living dictatorship : everyday life in fascist Venice 1929-1940
This PhD thesis analyses the lived, everyday experience of Italian fascism in Venice from 1929-1940 through the examination of a number of collective cultural experiences, encountered by Venetians in their daily lives and over the life-course, in order to reveal how far the fascist regime succeeded in penetrating and appropriating the private spheres and 'collective memory' of Venetian society, as well as to demonstrate the complexities of 'ordinary' people's lived experience of fascism and their responses to the intrusion of the regime and its cultural products into their daily lives. To this end, the thesis is loosely structured according to the chronology of the life-course, with chapters addressing the experience of youth, adolescence and free time popular celebrations and festivals the impact of economic autarchy on food, drink, fashion etc. the experience of death and funeral rituals. Treading a line which seeks to heed Mossean exhortations to examine fascism from the inside as well as out- and to take seriously fascism's own understanding of itself whilst rejecting a reduction of the fascist project to nothing more than spectacle and discourse, this study aims to highlight the intricacies, complexities and potential creativity of life under Mussolini's dictatorship, drawing new attention to the distinction between, on the one hand, the regime's intentions and, on the other, the reception of fascist cultural products by its citizens. Using a theoretical framework informed by the work of Koselleck, Jauss, Said, Hoggart, Chartier and, in particular, Michel de Certeau, the results of this research ultimately reveal the limitations of the regime's reach: the lagunari of the 1930s emerge as 'consumer-producers' who used the fascist cultural products they encountered creatively, absorbing, accepting, modifying or rejecting their messages, mediated as they were through narratives - of the nation, the church and the Serenissima republic - with the potential to both strengthen and weaken their intended meaning, as these mingled and clashed with pre-existing and enduring mentalites.