Supervisors: Professor Diana Spencer, Dr Lloyd Jenkins, and Dr Kate Nichols
My dissertation is a comparative study of the processes of eviction and demolition for the sake of monumental building projects in Augustan and Fascist Rome. It considers how the social, political, and topographical issues in Rome that have recurred throughout history led to prejudice against certain marginalised Romans, and how these sentiments resulted in the targeting of neighbourhoods inhabited by these residents for demolition. It then investigates the processes by which these neighbourhoods were cleared out and demolished, and both the practical and abstract ways that process affected those who were forced out of their homes. At the conclusion of this investigation, I will analyse how the reception of the monumental spaces created in the footprint of these neighbourhoods was affected by the eviction and demolition that preceded them, and how the cultural memory of demolished buildings continues to affect the relationship between the city and its inhabitants.
My project operates through a series of case studies: I am focusing on the Subura and the Tiber banks in the Augustan period, and their corresponding early modern locations, Quartiere Alessandrino and Piazza Montanara, in the Fascist period.
In both time periods, I am interested in the blurring of the environmental, moral and practical justifications given for demolition, the processes of land acquisition and population displacement, and the popular reception of the ensuing construction projects. Major thematic issues I am focusing on include how "hygiene" was presented as the impetus for projects, the connection between the urban fabric and the perceptions of its inhabitants, and eviction/demolition as a method of physical and social control. I am also considering broader social issues inherent in the building programs of authoritarian leaders such as the disdain of those in power for local urban populations, and the privileging of public monuments over private domestic spaces.