Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, University of Naples

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, New York University (NYU)
Cold War Domesticity: Consuming Women in Postwar Italy

Between the second half of the 1950s and the 1960s Italy underwent a profound economic and social transformation. Following the country's so-called "economic miracle", millions of people migrated from the South and the countryside to the cities of the North, and consumer goods became accessible to large sectors of the population. My research analyzes the ways in which the spread of mass consumption redefined women's citizenship and role in the nation's economy, and in turn affected women's daily lives. I explore the discourses and projects carried out by Italy's main industries, and argue that they assigned women a central role in the building of their country's wealth, as managers of their families' budgets and as rational housewives. Furthermore, I relate the spread of mass consumption to the context of the Cold War, and argue that the main Italian political parties, the Christian Democracy (DC) and the Italian Communist Party (PCI) transformed women's consumer practices into a site of struggle over the meaning of democracy, social justice and women's citizenship, as well as of Italy's national identity and international role in the Western bloc. Finally, by exploring the ways in which mass consumption affected gender roles and women's everyday lives, I intend to argue that the debates and policies accompanying the spread of mass consumption provided Italian women with a forum of discussion over the meaning of female emancipation, family roles and citizenship, and became an avenue through which to lay claims on the state.