This article aims to offer a unitary interpretation of the peasant revolts developed in southern Italy and in agro-towns from the Allied landings in Sicily to the first months of 1945. A largely uniform dynamic characterizes these practices of social conflict. The actions of the rebels always focused on the aim of “state closure”: the looting, destruction and burning of public buildings was the common scenario, making these conflicts apparently similar to the urban mobs or the peasant jacquerie of the middle ages and early modern epochs. Yet, these forms of social conflict arose in the middle of the twentieth century, which led in some cases to precarious and temporary para-institutional forms of popular, municipally based self- government. In the light of the study of new archival sources, the article analyzes the phenomenon through its community aspects and class conflict, and interprets it as a set of violent forms of “resistance” of the popular classes to the process of the unpopular wartime policies of military conscription and food rationing.
Peasant revolts, Southern Italy, 1943-1945, Self-government