Ilaria Poerio – The Fascist Confino: A School of Dissent


Event Dates: 13 – 16 September 2015
College Court Conference Centre
Knighton Road,
Leicester LE2 3UF

The Carceral Archipelago: Transnational Circulations in Global Perspective, 1415-1960

Ilaria Poerio (Reading) – The Fascist Confino: A School of Dissent

The confino di polizia, (established by Testo Unico di Pubblica Sicurezza 6/11/1926), pillar of the Italian fascist repressive system, was based on the custody without any charge of offence. It cancelled in one go civil, social and political rights, contributing to dismantle the Italian state of right.

From 1926 and 1943, 27.752 were the years’ imprisonment inflicted by the Tribunale Speciale. Men and women interned in 262 camps, subjected to a sui generis confinement, were 15.000 (among them around 5.000 were the political opponents).

A focused analysis on confinement daily life would reveal the intense cultural and political training that it represented, “a crucial part in the self-identity building process”. Although frequently this idea appears in the ex confinati memoirs and also in the fascist documentation, there is not any previous research on the confino di polizia’s metamorphosis into a kind of school of antifascism.

An in depth gaze deletes the mitigated image of confinement camps as a kind of black holidays offered by the regime which – along with the comparison with Stalin’s gulag and Nazi lagers – deliberately aimed to belittle the extent of that repressive violence.

During the confinement took shape the European Manifesto by Altiero Spinelli. The trajectories of several International Brigades volunteers crisscrossed internment camps. Men and women involved in the Resistance movement came from confinement camps, definitely closed in 1943; most of them played key roles in the newborn Italian Republic. Were the Mediterranean islands more than other colonies to host the antifascist vanguard, therefore these colonies and their detainees’ population will be the privileged object of my analysis. In line with the idea of the “novitiate” on the islands of confinement it would be possible to enlighten the ‘pedagogical antifascist project’ developed within the internment frame. Through the analysis of the regime repressive capability, and in particular of the institution of confino, new keys would be found to depict and to interpret the several appearances acquired by antifascism in Italy and the confined antifascism’s real potential in organizing and cultivating new forms of dissent.


accompanying images:

<<back to conference page>>

share this entry: