Enrico Pozzi

Il Duce e il Milite ignoto: dialettica di due corpi politici

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract


In the aftermath of WWI, two bodies compete for symbolic Hgemony within the Italian political imagination. Mussolini's body only starts to assert itself as an essential component of the Fascist leader's public representation. Meanwhile, the corpse of the Unknown Soldier turns into a major symbolic resource, and the key "persona" in a climatic collective ritual. Both the process which led to the Unknown Soldier's enshrining and the ritual system which implemented its consecration show the political functions of this peculiar body. Dismembered by the war's violence and remembered by a national rite, it epitomizes the anomic crisis of post-war Italy, and the phantasy to restore its cohesiveness as a Body Political through a thaumaturgic action on a Body Natural. Such a metonymic healing of the social body ran counter the needs of the Fascist movement, draining it of its social psychological broth. This may explain Mussolini's tongue-in-cheek attitude towards a symbolic rival. Nevertheless, the Duce quickly perceived the powerful potential of a bodily symbol in building up consensus. The Unknown Soldier taught him the contents and tactics of a shrewd use of corporeality for political socialisation. Mussolini's own body was turned into an incorporation of the new social bond of Fascist Italy, and became the living representation of the social system as a restored and revitalised whole.

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