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Memoria e Ricerca

The “Great Oblivion”: Labour, Technology and Progress in Reports of Florentine Workers on the Milan Exhibition of 19

di Anna Pellegrino
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 17 (2004), p. 165

This article deals with the journey of a group of Florentine workers and craftsmen sent – on behalf of the Municipality of Florence – to the International Exhibition held in Milan in 1906. The first section of the essay analyses the public discourses on the event, the formal procedure necessary to select the workers as well as the contradictions that such a kind of intervention entailed, with particular regard to planning strategies of social inclusion and integration. The article’s second half then examines the reports which the workers themselves wrote after their return. These writings allow to comprehend different positions inside the working world, in particular those of a group of experienced workers, with a view to the “magnificence” of progress, and the problematic relationship between the world of labour and that of technology and industry, especially at that difficult time when a change from craft to mass production could be observed.