Keywords: Italian fascism - Fascist squads - Gerardo Bonelli.
This article deals with the phenomenon of fascist squads (squadrismo) in Genoa. Because
of a large presence of workers and trade unions and a strong hostility to Fascism,
Genoa provides a remarkable laboratory where interactions between practices and multifaceted
representations of blackshirts' violence can be tested. Resorting to largely unexplored
sources - such as personal files of blackshirts sentenced to political confinement
and transcripts of the 1929 criminal trial against Gerardo Bonelli, former leader of Genoese
blackshirts - it has been possible to outline not only the political function of fascist
squads but also the social and psychological profile of the protagonists of fascist violence.
The analysis of the repression that involved Genoese and Italian squads in the second half
of the Twenties makes clear that the blackshirts' experience gave place to opposite and
conflicting representations and definitions. Furthermore, the article shows how violent
militancy was able to shape individual and collective identities in a way that even the
Party's purges were not able to affect.