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The Moro Morality Play

Terrorism as Social Drama

On March 16, 1978, the former prime minister of Italy, Aldo Moro, was kidnapped by the Red Brigades, and what followed—the fifty-five days of captivity that resulted in Moro’s murder—constitutes one of the most striking social dramas of the twentieth century. In this compelling study of terrorism, Robin Wagner-Pacifici employs methods from sociology, symbolic anthropology, and literary criticism to decode the many social "texts" that shaped the event: political speeches, newspaper reports, television and radio news, editorials, photographs, Moro’s letters, Red Brigade communiques, and appeals by various international figures. The analysis of these "texts" calls into question the function of politics, social drama, spectacle, and theater. Wagner-Pacifici provides a dramaturgic analysis of the Moro affair as a method for discussing the culture of politics in Italy.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
Event and Epistemology
The Social Drama
The Significance of Social Hermeneutics
Organization of the Book
2. Italy 1978
The Protagonists
Legitimation Crisis
3. Breach: The Country in the Streets
The Critical Event
4. Crisis: Recognition and Negotiation
The Protagonists Claim Their Positions
The Significance of Negotiation as an Exchange Activity
Varieties of Recognition
5. Redress: Elaboration of Symbolic Power
The Root Paradigms
Unpacking the Root Paradigms
6. Reconciliation or Schism: Theory
The Authority of Authorship
The Final Act
A Case of Structural Convergence
Moro’s Career
Moro Public and Moro Private
A Precedent for Expulsion
The Need for Purification
Moro’s Moral Passage
Aesthetic Imperatives
7. The Praxis of Reconciliation and the Praxis of Schism
Symmetrical Trials
Trial in Torino
The Trial in the People’s Prison
The Interpretation of Evidence
Performance and Competence
The Letters as Evidence
The Benign Interpretation
The Family as Plaintiff
8. Conclusion
The Model of Ritual
Ritual and Theater
Tragedy versus Melodrama
Heroes and Villains
Cauterization: Police Powers and Maximalist Appeals
Modes of Mediation
Appendix: Documents of the Drama

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