Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Spatial Humanities, Historical Geography GIScience, Italian Fascism, Gender Geography, Gendered Violence, Carceral Geography, Surveillance, Police Monitoring.

Major Advisor

Kenneth Foote

Associate Advisor

Mark Boyer

Associate Advisor

Debanuj Dasgupta

Associate Advisor

Alberto Giordano

Associate Advisor

Sergio Luzzatto

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation analyzes the spatial and temporal patterning of political arrests during the initial years of the fascist regime in Italy, from 1925 to 1928. These were crucial years because Italy’s fascists acted rapidly to consolidate their power and to suppress their opponents. A key element of this takeover was the creation of a political court, the Special Tribunal. I argue that while the Special Tribunal did target political enemies, it was also used as a sophisticated system of control of territory and population.

In the first part of the research, it considers the spatial patterning of political arrests from individual to the national scale. Moreover, the fascist regime was able to take advantage of political crises, and this research analyzes how Mussolini operated in this context of emergency activating a political of suppression. New techniques emerge from the Spatial Humanities, in particular in the field of historical geographic information systems (HGIS), here it uses the Knox Index and clustering analysis to understand the role played by space, place, and time in the fascist system of political oppression.

The study also considers the part gender played in the work of the Special Tribunal. Fascism was a masculinist and patriarchal movement which placed women outside of politics and also sought to impose strict rules on their bodies and behavior. The question then is how fascist ideology affected differences in the treatment of women and men in the Special Tribunal system. Scholars have often indicated that the Special Tribunal treated women brutally, but the pattern emerged from this research just partially confirms it.

The surveillance network was a key element of the political justice system even if the researchers did not inquire about this aspect too much. Concentrating on the fascist surveillance systems, the dissertation elaborates the police monitoring after the people were released by the Special Tribunal system. Attention is given here to the spatio carceral tactics used by the fascists to maintain this surveillance for long periods. It emerges how the fascist brutal violence was completely absorbed by a perfect bureaucratic system of repression and control.

Available for download on Friday, June 25, 2021