Restore, Displace, Appropriate: Negotiating the Baroque Legacy in Fascist Rome

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When Italy’s National Fascist Party (PNF) initiated its redesign of Rome in the mid-1920s, it celebrated the Italianness of the city’s ancient, medieval, and Renaissance heritage; the foreign associations of Rome’s Baroque past, however, proved to be contentious. This dissertation explores how the Fascist regime negotiated the Baroque throughout its renovation of the city. Considering the Baroque as a global style and as the period in which foreign powers exercised substantial authority in the Eternal City and formal control over the Italian South, this study analyzes how the architectural, sociocultural, and geopolitical legacies of early modern intra-European colonialism informed the regime’s transformation of Rome. Examining the regime’s negotiation of the Baroque through the frameworks of restoration, displacement, and appropriation, this dissertation reveals how the PNF identified and mediated the “foreign” across the city in order to reassert Rome’s prestige on its own aesthetic and nationalistic terms. Chapter One surveys the restoration campaigns that strove to minimize the Baroque throughout Rome’s urban fabric. In the process, the chapter examines the wholesale destruction of the Baroque at Largo Argentina, the subtle erasure of the Baroque at the medieval basilica of Santa Sabina, and the resurrection of the Baroque via the church of Santa Rita da Cascia. Chapter Two investigates the regime’s displacement of the city’s impoverished Romans and southern Italian migrants to rapidly built housing projects, or borgate, in Rome’s peripheries. Charting the impact of internal migration and conceptions of race, the chapter considers this feature of the city’s redesign as one of ethnic and cultural exclusion in response to the geopolitical legacies of the Baroque. Chapter Three, in contrast, illustrates the regime’s stylistic, urbanistic, and rhetorical appropriation of the Baroque throughout Rome via the case studies of Garbatella, the Corso del Rinascimento, and the Foro Mussolini. The chapter argues that these modes of appropriation strove to reclaim the Baroque from its foreign associations by reinvesting in the style on Roman—and “Fascist”—terms. More broadly, the dissertation’s cross-chronological approach contributes to the current scholarly reexamination of the Baroque while revealing the ways in which xenophobia manifests itself in the built environment.

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468 pages


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Architecture; Baroque; Fascism; Italy; Rome; Urban development


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Lasansky, D.

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Woods, Mary Norman
Lazzaro, Claudia

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Ph. D., Architecture

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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