LUCETTA SCARAFFIA, ANNA MARIA ISASTIA

Optimistic Women

Female Bourgeois Associations in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Little is known about the only successful revolution of the 20th century - womens revolution - and especially about women who struggled in non-political domains pertaining to socialist, communist and catholic experiences. This volume intends to fill this gap. The first part offers a historical reconnaissance of the ideological and cultural roots of emancipation movements that were active at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries; specific emphasis, as previously mentioned, is placed on non-political movements. This focus reveals Freemason and esoteric influences, the religious nature of a movement with spiritual goals, and especially the role of theosophical society leaders, Helena Blavatsky and Annie Besant. Their links with the female liberation movement, previously thought to be relevant only for Britain, are here documented for Italian feminism inspired by Giuseppe Mazzinis democratic ideals. This link is exemplified by two female bourgeois associations, Soroptimist and Aidda, of which the international origins and the evolution in Italy in the second half of the 20th century are traced: thanks to the management of their internal organs, these social work associations introduced women to democracy.

Lucetta Scaraffia and Anna Maria Isastia teach Contemporary History at the University of Rome.

series "Saggi"
pp. 312, 978-88-15-08943-4
publication year 2002