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Driving Modernity

Technology, Experts, Politics, and Fascist Motorways, 1922-1943

Massimo Moraglio
Translated from the Italian by Erin O'Loughlin

208 pages, 18 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-449-8 $110.00/£78.00 Hb Published (March 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-450-4 eBook

Hb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors

“Based on prodigious archival research, Driving Modernity explores how the Italian autostrada project grew out of a somewhat fantastic idea by a coterie of Milan businessmen into an internationally recognized technological icon of Fascist Italy. This book speaks clearly and convincingly about the political values embedded in infrastructures.” · Thomas Zeller, University of Maryland, College Park

“Moraglio’s work is a deep dive into a grandiose and distinctively modern project in interwar Italy. Never before has the complex ideological character of these motorways been so clearly analyzed, from the moment of their conception to the widespread adoption of the automobile.” · Mathieu Flonneau, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, LabEx EHNE

On March 26th, 1923, in a formal ceremony, construction of the Milan–Alpine Lakes autostrada officially began, the preliminary step toward what would become the first European motorway. That Benito Mussolini himself participated in the festivities indicates just how important the project was to Italian Fascism. Driving Modernity recounts the twisting fortunes of the autostrada, which—alongside railways, aviation, and other forms of mobility—Italian authorities hoped would spread an ideology of technological nationalism. It explains how Italy ultimately failed to realize its mammoth infrastructural vision, addressing the political and social conditions that made a coherent plan of development impossible.

Massimo Moraglio is a senior researcher at the Technische Universität Berlin. He has received an EU Marie Sklodowska Curie IEF fellowship and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transport History. He has coedited the volumes The Organization of Transport: A History of Users, Industry, and Public Policy (2015) and Peripheral Flows: A Historical Perspective on Mobilities between Cores and Fringes (2016).

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Translation subsidy provided by:
Series: Volume 3, Explorations in Mobility
Subject: 20th Century History General Mobility Studies
Area: Southern Europe

LC: HE363.I83 E94613 2017

BISAC: HIS020000 HISTORY/Europe/Italy; POL042030 POLITICAL SCIENCE/Political Ideologies/Fascism & Totalitarianism; TEC056000 TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING/History

BIC: JPFQ Fascism & Nazism; TBX History of engineering & technology


List of Figures and Tables
List of Acronyms


Chapter 1. The Roads before the Motorways
Chapter 2. 1922: The Motorway from Milan to the Prealpine Lakes
Chapter 3. Motorway Mania in Italy in the 1920s
Chapter 4. The Ordinary Roads Problem
Chapter 5. From the Pedemontana Project to the Construction Suspension
Chapter 6. A Case Study: The Turin–Milan Motorway
Chapter 7. The 1930s: The European Utopia and the Nationalist Fulfillment
Chapter 8. The Bankruptcy and Legacy of the Motorways



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