Central State Archives, controversy surrounds appointment of Andrea De Pasquale as director

A heated controversy is brewing over the appointment of the new director of the Central State Archives: he is Andrea De Pasquale, former director of the National Central Library in Rome. Criticism concerns his competence and a precedent he set on Pino Rauti.

There is controversy surrounding the appointment of the new director of theCentral State Archives in Rome, the current director of the National Library in Rome, Andrea De Pasquale. De Pasquale graduated in 1993 from the University of Turin with a degree in Classical Literature (and also in the same year obtained a Diploma from the School of Archival Studies, Paleography and Diplomatics of the State Archives of Turin), and holds a PhD in History of the Book from the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, with a thesis on Giovanni Battista Bodoni. He also has a postgraduate degree in history from the Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis in 1995, a postgraduate degree as a librarian obtained at the Special School for Archivists and Librarians at La Sapienza in Rome in 1998. He then also embarked on a path in management, obtaining a diploma from the management training course at the Scuola Superiore della Pubblica Amministrazione (2008-2009), a master’s degree in public administration management at the Bocconi School of Management (2015-2016), and a postgraduate degree in public administration management at the National School of Administration (2016).

De Pasquale joined the Ministry of Cultural Heritage as a manager in 2007 after a competition: before becoming director of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in 2014, he directed the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense in Milan from 2011 to 2014 and the Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria in Turin from 2012 to 2015, while he was head of the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma from 2008 to 2012.

There are two lines around which criticism is centered: the first concerns De Pasquale’s competencies, while the second concerns certain of his political outings. The issue of titles has been raised by Tomaso Montanari, who in an article in Il Fatto Quotidiano recalls the 2008 ministerial decree explicitly stating that the Central State Archive must be a state archivist, while De Pasquale has had a very high-level career, yes, but as a librarian, “with archival experience completely irrelevant to that crucial role.” The appointment is possible, however, because with the Franceschini reform, the Central Archives has become an autonomous institute and the director can therefore be a first-rank executive, regardless of his or her skills: however, Montanari notes that “the 2008 dm was never repealed.” A situation of bureaucratic conflict would therefore arise. “And it would also be hallucinating,” Montanari ends, “that the archivist in chief of the Italian Republic was not an archivist.”

Instead, the political problem emerged after Paolo Bolognesi, president of the Association of Victims of the Bologna massacre of August 2, 1980, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Mario Draghi and then to President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella asking that De Pasquale’s appointment not be made because “he certainly has the qualifications, but not the vision and depth that should characterize a position so central to the transparency of our democracy.” Weighing on De Pasquale, in fact, is “the precedent of the acquisition of the Rauti archive by the National Library,” writes Bolognesi again. We are talking, of course, about Pino Rauti, leader of the Ordine Nuovo organization of the extra-parliamentary right, who had major charges for the Piazza Fontana massacre, only to be released from prison in 1972. “On that occasion,” Bolognesi continues, “there was a celebratory emphasis on the event that did not go down well with several, starting with the relatives of the victims of the Brescia and Piazza Fontana massacres. And not only that. On the occasion of the acquisition of the Rauti archives, De Pasquale showed or at any rate endorsed an attitude of little scientific autonomy and complacency toward the Rauti family and the political side of him and his heirs.” According to Bolognesi, De Pasquale’s appointment would suggest that “in the facts there is no will to shed light on the background of the massacre and massacres in general, on the collusions of the apparatuses, who the gladiators were, their ’exploits’ let alone the various political-terrorist implications of the notorious P2 lodge,” and such an appointment “would be a deep regret for our association and would mean that any hope of further truths about the massacre are an illusion.” Several newspapers, from Il Manifesto to Left, have exhumed the words with which, in November 2020, De Pasquale announced the acquisition of the Rauti fund, describing the former leader of Ordine Nuovo as “one of the key figures in the History of the Right in Italy: organizer, thinker, scholar, journalist, deputy from 1972 to 1992. As active and creative as he was reflective and critical.”

Bolognesi’s position is also supported by members of the majority parties, such as Pierluigi Bersani and Federico Fornaro of Leu, Mario Pierantoni of M5S (chair of the House Justice Committee), and Andrea De Maria and Federica Mazzoni of the PD. A harsh attack, on the other hand, came from Giuliano Volpe, former president of the Superior Council of Cultural Heritage, who even compared those who criticized De Pasquale to the Taliban: “Unfortunately, the Taliban are not only in Kabul but also in Italy, and there are those who have said they are proud to be called Taliban. The affair of reactions to Andrea De Pasquale’s nomination proves this. We defend secular and free thinking against the intransigently fanatical positions of certain self-styled progressives who are highly regarded in our world and very present in the media.”

De Pasquale, for his part, made himself heard with a letter of clarification sent to Il Fatto Quotidiano and also published this morning by the press office of the Ministry of Culture: “I learn with sorrow of objections regarding my appointment as director of the Central State Archives,” says the executive. “I want to clarify that in my past directorships I have always strived, with the utmost scientific rigor, to enhance and increase research activity, facilitating scholars in the use of documentary and bibliographic material. The same thing I will do, with discipline and honor, as stated in Article 54 of the Constitution, for the extraordinary patrimony of the Central State Archives, also with reference to the documents declassified under the Prodi, Renzi and now Draghi directives, and I assure the utmost commitment in increasing their study through the implementation of projects of inventories and digitalizations.”

Central State Archives, controversy surrounds appointment of Andrea De Pasquale as director
Central State Archives, controversy surrounds appointment of Andrea De Pasquale as director

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