This book explores how and why Matera came to be viewed in such negative terms and investigates the impact this had on the city’s social and urban development. Drawing on previously neglected primary sources, it charts the discursive construction of Matera as a «national disgrace» in the context of post-war Italy’s complex political landscape, renewed interest in the southern question, and narratives of the Italian nation. These themes are examined through the lens of recent scholarship in the history of emotions, the history of nationalism, urban history, and the new southern history.
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- List of Figures
- List of Abbreviations
- Chapter 1 Inventing Matera: Carlo Levi and the Sassi
- Chapter 2 An anatomy of a ‘national disgrace’
- Chapter 3 Clearing the Sassi
- Chapter 4 The birth and decline of a model village
- Series Index
The History of a ‘National Disgrace’
Oxford • Bern • Berlin • Bruxelles • New York • Wien
Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek
Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: McGauley, Patrick, 1977- author.
Title: Matera, 1945-1960 : the history of a ‘national disgrace‘ / Patrick McGauley.
Description: First edition. | Oxford ; New York : Peter Lang,  | Series: Italian modernities ; 31 | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018018385 | ISBN 9781788743570 (alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Matera (Italy)--History--20th century. | Sassi (Matera, Italy)--Buildings, structures, etc.
Classification: LCC DG975.M46 M43 2018 | DDC 945/.772--dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018018385
Cover image: ‘A cave home in the Sassi’ (1950) by Marjory Collins.
Source: Marjory Collins Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.
Cover design by Peter Lang Ltd.
ISBN 978-1-78874-357-0 (print) • ISBN 978-1-78874-358-7 (ePDF)
ISBN 978-1-78874-359-4 (ePub) • ISBN 978-1-78874-360-0 (mobi)
Patrick McGauley 2019
Published by Peter Lang Ltd, International Academic Publishers,
52 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LU, United Kingdom
Patrick McGauley has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this Work.
All rights reserved.
All parts of this publication are protected by copyright.
Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without the permission of the publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution.
This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming, and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems.
This publication has been peer reviewed.
Patrick McGauley holds a PhD in Italian studies from University College London. He is originally from Wicklow Town, Ireland and currently lives in London.
About the book
The southern Italian city of Matera was dubbed a ‘national disgrace’ in the immediate post-war period due to media and political focus on its distinctive cave homes, the Sassi, which housed an estimated 15,000 people in the early 1950s. The Italian government implemented a rehousing programme for Matera’s cave dwellers in 1952. As a result, the Sassi were gradually emptied and the local population was rehoused in purpose-built rural villages and urban quarters. However, the rehousing programme was beset by numerous problems and was never fully completed.
This book explores how and why Matera came to be viewed in such negative terms and investigates the impact that this had on the city’s social and urban development. Drawing on previously neglected primary sources, it charts the discursive construction of Matera as a ‘national disgrace’ in the context of post-war Italy’s complex political landscape, renewed interest in the southern question, and narratives of the Italian nation. These themes are examined through the lens of recent scholarship in the history of emotions, the history of nationalism, urban history, and the new southern history.
This eBook can be cited
This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.
Index←v | vi→ ←vi | vii→
The National University of Ireland and the Arts and Humanities Research Council kindly funded my research on post-war Matera. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to John Dickie, who provided expert feedback on the doctoral thesis upon which this book is based. Thanks also to John Foot for his sound academic and practical advice over the years. Robert Lumley, Robert Gordon, Russell King and David Forgacs provided insightful comments on earlier versions of this work. The comments from the anonymous reviewer and series editors at Peter Lang were also of great help. I need to thank the staff in the various libraries and archives that I have used in London and Italy over the last decade. The archivists at the Matera State Archive deserve a special thanks, in particular Dottoressa Ierardi and Giuseppe Tremamunno.
Thanks also to John Kelly and Helena Kelleher, Jenny Knighton and Marco Nicolosi, and Paola Bochicchio and Raffaele Mautone for their hospitality during my various research visits to Rome. My friend Ettore Stella in Matera has been of invaluable help in tracking down important primary sources. Grazia De Michele kindly let me read a copy of her PhD thesis and Linda Christenson was generous enough to send me the transcript of her interview with Vincent Barnett. The late Rocco Brancati was a constant source of encouragement and kindly introduced me to Leonardo Sacco, who also sadly died in 2018. I am sorry that they never got to see my work in print. My heartfelt thanks to them both.
I also want to thank Andrew Campbell, David Convery, Joss Moorkens, Dudley Colley, Ross Hackett, Jun Young Moon, Stan Erraught, Pamela Schievenin, Leo Goretti, Carmine Cassino, Keith Byrne, Adam Bell, Ronan O’Conchobhair, Ken Doherty and the extended McGauley, Carbery, Kavanagh and Hardwick clans for their continued interest and support. Poi un ringraziamento speciale alla famiglia Marsiglia per tutto il loro sostegno. A special thanks also to my son Tommaso, who never fails to fill my heart with joy. The biggest thanks of all goes to my wife Eleonora whose←ix | x→ patience and kindness have known no bounds over the last decade. She first brought me to Basilicata and Matera, and this book would have been impossible to complete without her intelligence, encouragement and love.
DC Christian Democrats
ECA European Cooperation Administration
GL Giustizia e Libertà
IMES Istituto meridionale di storia e scienze sociali
INU National Urban Planning Institute
- XII, 248
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2019 (March)
- cultural history urban history history of emotions Italian history European history
- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2019. XII, 248 pp., 9 fig. b/w