Keywords: Public History; Peripheries; Community Studies; Microhistory; Local History.
This essay traces the long-standing collective research experience conducted in the districts of the Northwestern outskirts of Turin, a project which began in the mid-Seventies and eventually led to the creation of the Centro di Documentazione Storica della Circoscrizione 5 [Centre for the Historical Documentation of District 5] of the City of Turin. Founded in 2000 by a group of history students, graduates and enthusiasts alike, the Centre is a public cultural institution which operates in the sphere of public history and whose scientific direction and activities are carried out by voluntary researchers. Analyzing the methodological assumptions which lay at the core of this experience, the article focuses on various problematic aspects, e.g. the experience's shift from informal to official status, its relationship with the university, the process of «inventing» the urban periphery as an historical subject and the development of a cultural project which has among its aims that of promoting a sense of citizenship and participation within the urban community to make the outskirts a more attractive and liveable environment.