Representing Political Violence in the Underground Press

(2019) “Representing Political Violence in the Underground Press: The Case of the Movement of 1977 in Italy,” in The Last Avant-Garde: Alternative and Anti-Establishment Reviews (1970-1979), ed. A. Chiurato, Milano: Mimesis, pp. 81–98  Full text: falciola_2019_the last avant garde

The Italian movement of 1977 had an ambiguous and controversial relationship with violence. Scholars still struggle to make sense of it. Quite paradoxically, the underground press created by the movement has never been systematically analyzed in order to explore the representation of violence. How did the movement conceptualize, contextualize, and describe violence? Was violence mostly accepted, rejected, criticized, overlooked or idealized? These questions are still open. This book chapter addresses them on the basis of a textual and visual analysis. As a result, it brings to light the wide array of framings and representations of violence that coexisted within the movement, which were by no means limited to a binary division between pro-violent and nonviolent standpoints. These perspectives were numerous, reflecting the heterogeneity of the movement. Yet, they shared a common feature: the large majority of them did not reject political violence. They supported it, selectively criticized it, or avoided discussing it. In 1977, the bulk of leftist revolutionary militants interpreted violence as a conventional means for bringing about and defending political change. Violence characterized the social climate, provided a language, and defined identities. Therefore, militants did not intend – or were not ready – to come to terms with the profound implications of violence.



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