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Cold War Cities

History, Culture and Memory


Edited By Katia Pizzi and Marjatta Hietala

The Cold War left indelible traces on the city, where polarities on the global stage crystallized and intersected with political and social dynamics predating and bypassing the Blocs. This collection taps into the rich fabric of memories, histories and cultural interactions of thirteen cities worldwide and the lived experience of urban communities during the long Cold War: activated and mobilized by atomic technologies, taking tourist photographs, attending commercial fairs, enjoying the cinema and the ballet, singing in choirs, paying respect in local cemeteries, visiting museums, and responding to town councils, unions and the local press. Literature, film, photography, the press, the monument, the cemetery, the factory, the ruin, the archive and the natural ecosystem are some of the key frameworks of cultural production elucidated here with a view to countering and exploding received myths about the Cold War.
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11 Bologna in the Early Cold War: Histories and Memories of a Communist City in the West



Bologna, the only major Italian city governed by a communist party uninterruptedly from the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall, makes a particular case of ‘local communism’, according to Norman LaPorte and Andreas Wirshing.1 During the Cold War years – especially in the first decade after the Second World War – Bologna positioned itself ideologically in the Eastern Bloc even though, as an Italian city, it belonged to the Western sphere of influence. The city hence became a major arena of ideological rivalry as well as continuous interaction between the West and the East.

Further to the first part of my chapter, I will examine the local communist press, which best reflects the influence and perception of the Cold War at city level by unveiling a mixture of local, national and international features in the public and political debates which took place in Bologna from the late 1940s to the first half of 1950s. Local problems were often explained with reference to international events, which, in turn, played an important role in people’s everyday lives and led to specific forms of opposition to the policies of the United States and related interventions such as the Korean War and nuclear testing.

In the final part of my contribution I will investigate the memory of Cold War-related events, by focusing on two opposite case studies that ← 271 | 272 → strongly characterize the communist identity of Bologna in the 1950s....

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