Contested memorial stones and the conflicting memories of the “years of lead” in Italy

Journal article

Rossi, F. (2018). Contested memorial stones and the conflicting memories of the “years of lead” in Italy. London Journal of critical thought. 2 (1).
AuthorsRossi, F.

The 1970s were characterised in Italy by the radicalisation of radical left political groups, but also by far-right bombings in public spaces: the decade is still a subject of strong political and historical controversies. This paper will present the cases of two commemorative stones in two Italian cities, how they have become areas of contention and how they embody the conflicting memories of the “years of lead”. The plaque at the station of Bologna in commemoration of the bombing on 2 August 1980 has been contested several times over the last twenty years by right-wing politicians for the adjective “fascist” used on its inscription “Victims of the fascist terrorism”. On the other hand, the stone in memory of the death of the anarchist worker Giuseppe Pinelli, allegedly from falling from a fourth-floor window of the police station in Milan in 1969, has had a difficult existence since it was first put in place in 1977. The controversies about this memorial stone epitomise the long-lasting disagreement over Pinelli’s death. These two cases offer an example of how places of memory can be highly charged with political meanings and reveal competing interpretations of the past as well as contemporary political struggles and ideological contexts. Analysis of these local and activist forms of memorialisation illustrates the tension between attempts by different actors to depoliticise or re-politicise the memory of the ‘years of lead’ in Italy and show how the interpretation of the past is continuously shaped by a complex interplay of actors, groups and levels.

KeywordsPolitical violence; Memory; Protest
JournalLondon Journal of critical thought
Journal citation2 (1)
PublisherLondon Critical
Publication dates
Print29 Jun 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited26 Jun 2018
Accepted11 Jun 2018
Accepted author manuscript
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
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Rethinking political violence, memory and law. Introduction
Rossi, F. and Kamiloglu, O (2016). Rethinking political violence, memory and law. Introduction. London Journal of critical thought. 1 (2), pp. 129-139.