Difficult heritage and children’s summer camps of Fascist Italy

  • Tim Brown

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The Fascist regime helped itself to a diverse collection of children’s institutions, including summer camps, or colonie, which it put its stamp of ownership on, expanded, and adapted into a tool for indoctrination of youth under the guise of benevolent welfare. This research focuses on the legacy of the colonie built during the years of the Fascist regime whose current situations include demolition, abandonment, ruination, continuing use, and unfinished and successful renovations. The research explores how these spaces have fared over the years since they were established, and speculates as to what the future may hold for them as the problematic and ambiguous heritage of a totalitarian regime. The study is conducted through investigations into their past, present circumstances and speculative futures. Research methods include studies of primary and secondary texts, walking, photographic practice, and appropriation and reuse of archival and other imagery. The research is framed within concepts of heterotopia and difficult heritage, which it uses to expose ambiguities in representations of the colonie system, alongside an intrinsic ‘fuzziness’ in the Fascist regime’s ideology. The practical outcome of the research and practice comprises a set of photographic images and representations in the form of a photobook, in which ambiguities and contradictions are revealed through juxtapositions and sequences of images and the spaces between them. A nuanced approach allowed for understandings of the regime’s attitude towards the health and indoctrination of youth to emerge. The research concludes that consequences of Fascism’s appropriation of the colonie system are complex and multifaceted. Scholars acknowledge that further research is needed, and this study makes a contribution towards situating the architecture and memory of former Fascist colonia as heritage worth preserving, irrespective of inherent difficulties.
Date of Award19 Feb 2024
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLiam Devlin (Main Supervisor) & Rowan Bailey (Co-Supervisor)

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