The lifeblood of historical scholarship in Italy is in danger

Free and accessible archives are the lifeblood of historical scholarship and this extraordinary act of philistinism constitutes little less than the suffocation of the Italian national memory. It is the equivalent of parliament closing down the English local record offices and all the awkward knowledge and troublesome documents they contain. The naturally sedate International Council on Archives is enraged, protesting that Italy’s pre-eminent place in world culture could be endangered and, just as importantly, „Italian citizens will lose their fundamental rights of access to administrative information“ and „government will lose its operational memory“ – which is arguably what the reforms are meant to achieve. Indeed, the closures form part of a pattern of thinking about the past prevalent within Berlusconi’s government and his Forza Italia party. It is predicated first on a denial of history, and then a highly aggressive rewriting of memory. Archives, documents, records of events are not generally welcome.
Tristram Hunt (London) in The Guardian.


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