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    Lavorgna, Anita 2015. The Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment.

    Skinner, Stephen 2013. Violence in Fascist Criminal Law Discourse: War, Repression and Anti-Democracy. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique, Vol. 26, Issue. 2, p. 439.

  • International Journal of Law in Context, Volume 7, Issue 4
  • December 2011, pp. 423-446

Tainted law? The Italian Penal Code, Fascism and democracy

  • Stephen Skinner (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 11 November 2011

The current Italian Penal Code is the direct descendant of the 1930 Rocco Code. Originally a hybrid of authoritarian and liberal elements, but revised and reinterpreted in the postwar Republic, the Code was nevertheless introduced under the Fascists and has not been definitively replaced or renamed. Given such roots, this article argues that the Code's legitimacy can be questioned by considering the significance of the Fascist past in terms of the Code's symbolic, contextually narrative and memorial dimensions. On this basis the article develops a concept of tainted law in order to ground and direct analysis of law in relation to the anti-democratic past, arguing that critical engagement with the connections between law and the darker episodes of twentieth-century politico-legal history is vital to the construction and conservation of democratic legal systems today.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Giulio Battaglini (1933–34) ‘The Fascist Reform of the Penal Law in Italy’, American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 24: 278–89.

Michele Battini (2007) (trans. Noor Giovanni Mazhar and ed. Stanislao G. Pugliese ) The Missing Italian Nuremberg: Cultural Amnesia and Postwar Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pierre-Henri Bolle (1999) ‘Reforming Criminal Law’, European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 7: 387–96.

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Lutz Klinkhammer (2010) ‘Was There a Fascist Revolution? The Function of Penal Law in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies 15(3): 390409.

Neil Maccormick (2007) Institutions of Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Morris Ploscowe (1945) ‘Purging Italian Criminal Justice of Fascism’, Columbia Law Review 45(2): 240–64.

Jiří Přibáň (2009) ‘Symbolism of the Spirit of the Laws: A Genealogical Excursus to Legal and Political Semiotics’, International Journal of the Semiotics of Law 22: 179–95.

Stephen Skinner (2003) ‘Death in Genoa: The G8 Summit Shooting and the Right to Life’, European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 11: 233–52.

Stephen Skinner (2009) ‘Stories of Pain and the Pursuit of Justice: Law, Violence, Experience and Jurisprudence’, Law, Culture and the Humanities 5: 131–55.

H. Arthur Steiner (1936) ‘The Fascist Conception of Law’, Columbia Law Review 36(8): 1267–83.

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International Journal of Law in Context
  • ISSN: 1744-5523
  • EISSN: 1744-5531
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-law-in-context
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