Archive for January, 2011

January 6, 2011

Retroactive history, political interest or just ignorance?

by felicitamodna82

This is fun…

As some of you may know, 2011 will be the 150. anniversary of Italy as a nation (though in an incomplete form, since the so-called Unità has been reached, revised and – well – contested during the 20th century…and although history and identity of Italy are still quite discussed or contested).

As part of celebrations, an exhibition has been organised. Title:

La bella Italia. Arte e identità delle città capitali

(beautiful Italy. Art and identity of capital cities)

There is a little problem. The exhibition should feature art from – I quote –  pre-unification “capital cities”...

Now, anybody who knows Italian history will soon recognize that…Bologna and Palermo WERE NOT capital cities, and have never been capital cities in the immediate pre-unification European asset, just to make it clear. On the contrary,  TRUE AND IMPORTANT CAPITAL CITIES LIKE MODENA AND PARMA (see Duchy of Modena e Reggio, Duchy of Parma) have been completely ignored. Any history student would be granted a “fail” in his/her exam for listing Bologna and Palermo as pre-Italian unification capital cities, these people are granted a lot of (public) money (in heavily indebted Italy) for doing this job BAD…

A mistake in the rationale, a shame and a stupid choice, since Modena and Parma are beautiful cities with wonderful and important cathedrals and well-established art museums and no exibition should be ashamed to feature them.

Politicians already tried to underline the mistake:

Please note that I had to agree with Giovanardi. This hurts! Never had I thought such a thing would happen… 😀

Now, as a historian I should try to understand:

  1. Did they fall victim of a sort-of-a-lapsus, writing “pre-unification capital cities” but thinking “today’s capital cities of Regioni(administrative unit similar to German or Austrian Land)” Or trying to create an innovative and provocative theory, making history from 1970 onwards retroactive? mm…
  2. Are they trying to perpetuate certain mythologies related to the history of unification and to the further political developments (Italy is a good thing, Austrians and Germans are the bad; the asset of nowadays – where a few cities catalyse any possible investment in public money – is the only one possible and so on? )
  3. Are they simply ignorant?

Who knows…

I believe Modena should start a serious reflection about her history, her historians…and definitely do not cooperate if asked for art pieces from her museums for these celebration. Reflect, rethink, boycott.

And, quoting the South Tyrolean slogan:  Los von Bologna! (away from Bologna!). We are only destroying our past and our future! We should re-integrate the old Emilia Longobarda and strengthen our ties to Central Europe (and no, not Eastern-Central Europe and not in the way Marchionne would wish…)

“organizzatori per capitali intendono quelle che hanno avuto un ruolo rilevante” ( “capital cities” are intended by the organisers as cities which played an important role).
What does this mean?
1) capital city has a definite meaning. Say “main city”, “main centre” – more appropriate – and, in any case, define in the rationale how you will use the definition. Rule No. 1 in every scientific work
2) Arguing that Modena and Parma ( even Reggio Emilia) did not play any important role before unification seems hard to every historian…

“Bologna as representative of whole Emilia”…and here once again the ignorance of almost an entire nation, ignoring that Bologna was not Emilia and this idea of Emilia has been invented. This will be finally shown in my Ph.D. Thesis. And…if art historians want to forge a new definition and a new theory, making an “Emilian art” exist” and creating a definition for a representative of this art…well, they should once again re-write their rationale, exposing their theory and using their own scientific language, not “ours”. “Capitali pre-unitarie” has a definite meaning if used without specification (“dell’arte” = “of art”). Even in this meaning, many people would not agree with the Piemontese choice…

Another one, from the Corriere della Sera:

«Forse c’è stato un equivoco — afferma il direttore della Reggia di Venaria, Alberto Vanelli —: questa non è una mostra storica sulle capitali d’Italia, ma una rassegna che punta a dimostrare come l’arte delle varie città, ben prima dell’unità d’Italia, avesse avuto un ruolo universale e unificante.

Then you should, again, read my comments about the way you developed your rationale, or abstract, or exposè, or razionale scientifico, as you prefer. Using the expression “Capitali pre-unitarie”  as shown on the site implies a certain meaning. I will not repeat what I exposed above.

“Creative history” as new level of public use of history?

Once upon a time there was Tyrol. Then Savoia Italy took away a strategic piece of land from it and made “Alto Adige” out of it. Many claim “it’s Italy, they are trentini, they must speak Italian”.

The same happened (beginning actually some years before…) some miles southwards on the Brennerstraße. Former capitals were subordinated to Bologna, the idea of Emilia Longobarda was gradually destroyed until the wonderful creation of Emilia-Romagna and of an Emilian Bologna. Guelph Bologna always fought Ghibelline Modena but only dominated Romagna and belonged later to the Papal State.

Political implications for these ideologies are quite clear. (see above).

I am waiting for my book about Austria to be published and for my Ph.D. thesis to be completed to have the possibility to bring new issues in the cultural and political debate around these themes, using ideas and evidences!

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