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Journal Articles McGill GLSA Research Series Year : 2021

The Shape of the Land Reform: Palermo 1960

Vittoria Becci
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The constitutional land reform in Italy, which took place in the 1950s, was accompanied by profound changes that affected not only the countryside, but cities as well. The reform was mainly addressed toward the south, il mezzogiorno, and Sicily in particular where the reform was intended to affect all cities in the region. On the one hand this was a social change dictated by the new constitutional principles, such as redistribution and employment increment in the agricultural sector. On the other hand, an economic boom complemented the redistribution, especially in the building sector. This combination was a main force in dictating the shape and the form of the cities during those years. Sicily’s main city, Palermo, experienced a major “restyling” during the twenty years that followed the reform. The depopulation of the historic city centre, due to the WWII bombings, provided an opportunity to think about new urban areas. Contrary to what was expected, a dark chapter in the history of Italian urbanization unfolded: the so-called Sacco di Palermo. The city was “ravaged” by property speculation, illegal constructions, and it was aesthetically deprived of its identity by the demolition of entire art nouveau districts and 18th century buildings which were later replaced with tower blocks. These real and concrete consequences are part of a network of connections through which law creates space, connections that this paper aims to study by shifting the perspective by asking: how does space create law? and how architecture regulates society? It takes Palermo as case study, in order to study spaces that the law creates intentionally and unintentionally. In giving a shape to the law, this paper aims to take into consideration urban spaces that will help to better understand how the idea and the definition of law relate to space, to cities and its main actors especially in terms of redistribution and property.

Dates and versions

hal-03918884 , version 1 (02-01-2023)



Vittoria Becci. The Shape of the Land Reform: Palermo 1960. McGill GLSA Research Series, 2021, 1 (1), pp.1-21. ⟨10.26443/glsars.v1i1.146⟩. ⟨hal-03918884⟩
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