Red Girls’ Revolutionary Tales: Antifascist Women’s Autobiographies in Italy

Chiara Bonfiglioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The essay focuses on recent autobiographies written by Italian women born in the 1920s, who engaged in revolutionary politics during and after the Second World War: Luciana Castellina (La scoperta del mondo, 2011), Bianca Guidetti Serra (Bianca la rossa, 2009), Marisa Ombra (La bella politica, 2010), Marisa Rodano (Del mutare dei tempi, 2008), Rossana Rossanda (La ragazza del secolo scorso, 2005). In these autobiographies, personal narratives of passionate engagement are entangled with the urgency of antifascist resistance, and with the social and political conflicts that traversed Cold War Italy. Women's multiple forms of political engagement within the Italian Communist Party (PCI) are analysed, as well as the contradictory, ambivalent connection between Western European communist activists and Eastern European socialist regimes. The intersections between antifascist, communist and women's rights politics are also explored, since some of the authors were leaders of the nation-wide left-wing Union of Italian Women (UDI). The autobiographies tell the story of an antifascist, left-wing 'middle-wave' that fought pioneering battles for women's political and social rights, and narrate its complex, conflictual encounter with second wave feminism in the 1970s. These writings, therefore, allow us to reflect on changes in gendered subjectivities and revolutionary politics across time and generations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-77
JournalFeminist Review
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


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