Barbara Grüning

Beyond the Cold War? Arendt's Reception in Germany and Italy



The reception of Arendt's thought in Germany and in Italy presents at first glance a similar trend. From the second postwar until 1968 Arendt is chiefly known for her works on totalitarianism and received by liberal thinkers. During the student protests with the rise of marxist theories her notoriety sinks, especially in the social sciences. The end of the cold war and the following crisis of orthodox marxism mark a new positive trend of her reception as a consequence of the need of left intellectuals to search new symbolic sources to re-legitimate themselves. However, beyond this shared master narrative the reception of Arendt's in the singular SSH disciplinary fields of the two countries presents many differences as different are their social and symbolic spaces and boundaries and their position in the respective national hierarchy of academic disciplines. Aim of the paper is then to analyze Arendt's reception within some pivotal disciplines (i.e. political science, political philosophy) in light of their cultural and institutional history and of the influence of their respective national political cultural context, in particular for what regards their public memory.


  • Arendt
  • Sociology of Ideas
  • Intellectuals
  • Field of Cultural Production
  • Consecration
  • Political Philosophy
  • Political Theory


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