Gilda Zazzara
Contemporary History

What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
I grew up in Milan, studied in Bologna and came to Venice for my PhD. I teach contemporary history and my interests focus on labour history, workers' political and trade union traditions, and the changes in industrial society. Venice has not only become my workplace, but also my city and my research ground. Porto Marghera is one of my main sites, but so is the Veneto made of small businesses. I am passionate about working-class worlds and popular cultures.

The area you have always wanted to be involved in but have not yet had the opportunity to explore?
Labour is such a great observatory of social change that it keeps presenting me with new questions. Recently, I have begun to look at deindustrialisation processes and their effects on labour, working with researchers in different countries. Another area that I am opening up is that of the link between work and environment and between labour movement and environmental movement. I think these research trajectories will keep me busy for a long time! 

What are you most passionate about in your research?
I study late modernity and contemporary times. Among the sources I usually use are oral accounts, private archives, grey literature and visual representations. Working closely with living memory is not easy, because it involves the impact of feelings and conflicts that are still burning. Making history with people, and not only about people, is one of the things I am most passionate about, because it means creating relationships, gaining trust and above all constantly questioning my own prejudices. For me having a rapport with the land where I research is also fundamental: I look for the global in the local, in the micro, in subjectivity, where I can aspire to rich knowledge.

What do teaching and researching mean to you?
First and foremost, it means the immense privilege of having a stable, respected job, with great room for independence and freedom. In today's world this is an extraordinary privilege. But it also means having a great responsibility, which I feel especially when I teach and try to pass on not only content but also a mindset and a way of approaching human problems in history. Academic research has the ambition of helping make the world a little fairer and more inclusive: I don't know how successful it is, but I try not to forget it.

Last update: 21/05/2024