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Women's lives in and since the 1970s

Exploring the legacy of feminism in Northern Italy: motherhood, family life, sexuality and employment (1967-2012)

British Postdoctoral Fellowship, October 2013 - September 2016
Host institution: School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Glasgow (UK)

The project draws on the outcomes of a previous oral history project where I interviewed 24 women about their lives during the 1970s (see PROJECT 1), when second-wave feminism fundamentally transformed society: it brought about changes in social structures, human relations, and female subjectivities. Thus the women's movement represents one of the more positive legacies of a decade remembered primarily for its political violence and terrorism. However, in the 1990s and 2000s, the achievements of feminism in Italy have been increasingly challenged, raising questions about the legacy of feminism. Through oral history interviews with women of different generations as well as archival research I will investigate the memory and the legacy of Italian feminism in the present, in Northern Italy, and developments in women’s conditions in this area at large.


Breaking gendered silences of the past. Narrating women's lives in the Italian years of protest: the case of Bologna (1975-1980)

British Academy Small Research Grant, August 2011 - January 2012
Host institution: Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London (UK)

This is an oral history project which challenges traditional perspectives on a decade of intense political violence in Italy: the 1970s. Media and institutions have indeed created a predominantly negative image of this period, or focused on a selection of publicly shared and 'shareable' memories. The 1970s were, however, also a decade of important social and cultural transformations, e.g. in interpersonal relations and women's emancipation. In fact, significant changes in subjectivities and gender relations were set in motion in the late 1960s and developed to their fullest during the decade under consideration. Many of the developments and achievements have, however, been ‘silenced’ by dominant narratives promoted by the media or by former leading, male figures in the protests. Through recurrence to oral history methodology, a vital tool in the understanding of the intersections between the private and the public, this project creates a more complex and inclusive history of the women's movement in the 1970s. More precisely, interviews with former female activists - both inside and outside the women's movement - in Italian leftwing protest movements of the late 1970s will provide insight into the impact of personal and political experiences on female subjectivities, and thus contribute to a richer gender history of those years.

Useful links


AHRC project 'La mamma italiana: Interrogating a national stereotype'

Discussion about women and maternity today (video, in Italian)

Dossier Vite, lavoro, non lavoro delle donne

FRAGEN: core feminist texts online
Motherhood in post-1968 European Literature Network workshop (podcasts)
Server Donne
The Women's Library in Bologna
Workshop about women, daily life and politics (audio & video, in Italian)