In the last three decades terrorism has been very active in Italy provoking many deaths and many slaughters, due mainly to the explosions of bombs either located on the trains or in the railway stations. The list of these terrorist events is extraordinarily long, insofar that most Italian citizens do not even remember their dates, places, and victims. By illustrating the different intervening factors that explain the collective oblivion of the terrorist slaughters, this article documents how institutional and cultural amnesia represents a very relevant key to understanding why Italy tends to forget its recent past. Usually, the collective and social memory has been conceived as the product of “institutional work”. The oblivion, on the contrary, has been considered mainly as a passive process, as the implied result of the social activities of remembering. In this perspective, a community might tend to forget what has not been selected by the process of remembering. On the contrary, the two qualitative researches on whose data this article is based, document that forgetting is an active process, and illustrate how the collective unconsciousness in Italy is socially constructed. These data show to what extent the collective amnesia is the result of the everyday work of specific groups and institutions whose primary interest is to forget. In other words, it is argued that the oblivion requires a continuous work in everyday life to silence the survivors and the families’ victims who are still alive, to destroy all possible symbols and cultural traces of these crucial events, and to avoid that the art system might successfully articulate the different versions of the contested past by shaping and legitimating them.
Tota, A.L. (2005). Terrorism and Collective Memories: Comparing Bologna, Naples and Madrid March 11. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE SOCIOLOGY, 46 (1-2), 55-78.