My project is a comparative historical analysis of the Augustan and Fascist demolition and construction projects in the city of Rome. Both Augustus and Benito Mussolini installed several monumental zones in the center of the city, all of which required massive clearance of the so-called “colore locale” and the displacement of thousands of Romans from their homes. As a result, the architectural manifestation of romanitas in Augustan Rome, and romanità in Fascist Rome, took precedence over Romans themselves. I am investigating this phenomenon as it occurred at several major urban sites in both time periods; namely, the Forum of Augustus, the Augustan Palatine complex, and the Theater of Marcellus in Augustan Rome, and the Fori Imperiali, Borgo, and Mausoleo di Augusto areas in Fascist Rome.
In both time periods, I am interested in the 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 the “myth of Rome” as an impetus for construction, the balance between widespread razing of structures and the lighter touch of renovation, and the effect that the resulting building or space can have on the cultural memory of demolished areas. 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.