Internal exile in Fascist Italy

History and representations of confino

Confino (i.e., internal exile) was a malleable form of imprisonment during the Fascist ventennio. Confinement allowed Mussolini to bypass the judiciary thereby placing prisoners outside magistrates’ jurisdiction. The Regime applied it to political dissidents, ethnic and religious minorities, gender nonconforming people, and mafiosi, among others. Recent political discourse in and beyond Italy has drawn on similar rationales to address perceived threats against the State. This study examines confino from a historical, political, social, and cultural perspective. It provides a broad overview of the practice and it also examines particular cases and situations. In addition to this historical assessment, it is the first to analyse confinement as a cultural practice through representations in literature (e.g., letters, memoirs, historical fiction) and film. English-language publications often overlook confino and its representations. Italian critical literature, instead, often speaks in purely historical terms or is rooted in partisan perspectives. This book demonstrates that internal exile is not purely political: it possesses a cultural history that speaks to the present. The scope of this study, therefore, is to provide a cultural reading that makes manifest aspects of confino that have been appropriated by contemporary political discourse. Although directed towards students and specialists of Italian history, literature, film, and culture, the study offers a coherent portrait of confino accessible to those with a general interest in Fascism.

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