My research project is tentatively titled “Europe constructed, Europe contested: Italian media in the early years of the European project”. My aim is to look at ideas of Europe and European integration in Italy in the 1950s and 60s, and the role the media – itself rapidly changing shape during these years – played in such discussions. Most academic research on Italian Euroscepticism, which has been largely conducted within the political scientific field, has tended to gloss over the debates on European integration which were unfolding in Italy in the first few decades after the war, and has tended to conform to the “permissive consensus” theory. A closer look at the evidence, nevertheless, has shown that, while the Christian Democratic establishment certainly endorsed the establishment of the ECSC and EEC, the process of integration was subject to significantly greater contestation and controversy than has been assumed thus far. Moreover, research from historians such as Wolfram Kaiser and Daniele Pasquinucci has illustrated how certain narratives which may have been perceived as “pro-European” in certain contexts could equally have been the fuel of EU-critical counter-narratives in later decades – an example being that of the “external constraint”, whereby politicians depicted Italy as needing to rely on the European Community. Through my project, I aim to look at how the media both served to amplify and construct a specific model of European integration – especially through the RAI TV channel, launched in 1954 – and contest it at the same time, especially within certain newspapers.
Current status and next steps:
I am currently finishing writing the historiography and literature review, and am conducting research into a variety of both national and regional papers. I soon plan to look at newsreels, stored at the Istituto Luce, as well as go through RAI’s archives.