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Research projects
Principal Investigator(s)
Elena Laurenzi
(ADHUC—Università del Salento)

The present project focuses on two generations of women belonging to the illustrious family De Viti De Marco, who lived and operated in the South of Italy at the beginnings of the 1900s and who were concerned with social problems and open to the influences of European and international culture. The aim of the study is to analyze the transmission of the political project that links the two generations, emerging from the liberal women’s emancipation movement and developing through both institutional and semi-private initiatives, rooted in the local area but also with international scope. The story starts with the creation of a lace and weaving school in 1901, inspired by the ideas of the “practical feminism” which fostered artisanal work as an instrument to promote female citizenship, and leads to the Foundation Le Costantine, a social and economic enterprise working nowadays, where fine weaving carried out with traditional methods is combined with biodynamic agriculture and the provision of instruction and social care to young people.

The project has an intersectorial approach, which develops both on the historiographical level and on the level of the articulation of theory and practice. In the first direction we carry out bibliographical and archive search, using private documents as resources for tracing the transmission of female political thought. At the second level, we realize a “research-action” following a participatory approach, that aims to involve the workers of the Foundation in a process of empowerment and self-awareness, and to verify the function of memory as a source in the present development of the community.


  1. To deepen to the knowledge of early nineteenth-century Italian emancipation feminism through the study of poorly explored figures and areas.
  2. To contribute to the definition of a methodology based on the study of private documents as resources for tracing the transmission of female political thought.
  3. To contribute to the study of alternative economic models through the analysis of the value of memory in the creation of a female enterprise based on community constraints.
  4. To promote both at a local and national-international level the recovery of textiles and in general traditional feminine knowledge and enterprise.