Masses in motion : spaces and spectacle in fascist Rome, 1919-1929 / by Peter Thomas Lang.
This dissertation focuses on the urban modernization of turn of the century Rome and the historically critical moment in the transformation of the mass spectacle. What emerges over the course of this period between 1919 and 1929 is a Fascist styled political spectacle that gradually shifted away from the familiar and traditional urban landscapes and moved to occupy the austere modern residential neighborhoods rising on the periphery of the Italian capital. In the process this history reveals that the oceanic rallies of the 1930s were neither so monolithic in character nor were they pure expressions of fervent religious secularism. Instead the very hesitant and unpremeditated manner in which these rituals found their place and form, points to a much more complex historic development shepherded not by the vision of Mussolini but by a cadre of astute party propagandists quick to turn to experiment. Another unexpected twist in this particular history is performed by Italy's war Veteran's: this politically heterogeneous organization played a much more important role in resisting Fascist rule in the early years of Mussolini's government than is usually credited them. The pawn of contention was the Tomb to the “Unknown Soldier,” that had been set into the colossal monument dedicated to King Vittorio Emanuele II in the heart of the ancient city. The Veterans resisted Fascist overtures that would have compromised the national monument's unifying symbolism. The Fascist party was forced to find alternative sites to stage their political rituals, gradually leading to the development of a new style of spectacle fragmented into theme episodes and spread into the decentered landscapes on the margins of the capital.
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