About: Luca Lapolla

My research investigates and compares the form and role of post-Second World War anarchist communities in Britain and Italy. In particular, I reconstruct and analyse the relationships within such communities – and between them and the mainstream society – by conducting interviews with anarchists who lived (or still live) in rural and urban communities characterised by a libertarian way of life.

I decided to work on libertarian squats and communes after my MA thesis (later published) on a 1970s anarcho-communist organisation called ORA that applied platformism by being active within mass movements (especially students’, workers’ and neighbourhood associations). Both the internal organisation of the former and the actions of the latter seem to have put into practice the old Wobbly phrase: “forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old”.

It is very important to me that these types of social experiments are studied and preserved, as their experience might in future be useful to construct a concrete alternative to our present society. It was a short step, then, from personal to academic interest. Therefore, I brought together my passion for social and cultural history and my interest in anarchism as a set of theories and practices that actively challenge the status quo.

When I first heard of ‘radical history’, I immediately thought it was nothing more than what I was doing: studying the history of radical people and movements. I was surprised, though, when I heard and read the several opinions that differ from and complete this point of view. For this reason I decided it would be extremely interesting to become involved in the organisation of this conference that gives postgraduate researchers the rare opportunity to reflect on this matter. I look forward to hearing further considerations on the identity of radical history and, hopefully, its possible contribution to building an alternative society based on equality, direct democracy and co-operation.

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