During the 1930s the fascist government launched a programme for the reclamation of the Pontine Marshes, one of the largest forested wetlands in Italy. In less than a few years the muddy and uneven ground of the forest was transformed into flat land to be cultivated and into solid surface where three new towns were built. Hegemonic narratives describe the fascist reclamation as a process that imposed a solid form upon the raw materials of nature, thereby establishing an unbridgeable divide between nature and culture, natural and built environment. The article challenges this dualism, drawing on ethnographic and historical materials to explore spatial and temporal zones in-between fluidity and solidity. It suggests an approach in which fluidity and solidity are understood as patterns of social and ecological relations rather than mutually exclusive properties of matter, thus exposing the continuity between them.
Bibliographical noteI want to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editors for their insightful and helpful comments. I also want to thank the organizers of and the participants in the workshop ‘Re-Scape. From Abandonment to Regeneration: Memory and Identity in the Ex-quarry of Monticchio’, who gave me the opportunity to join their activities. When drafting this article I also benefitted from stimulating discussions with Pietro Cefaly, scientific director at Casa dell’Architettura of Latina, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for sparking my interest in the discipline and practice of urban architecture.
- built landscape
- environmental anthropology
- land reclamation