... I thought I'd embark on a third. The first two (big project: civil mobilization in support of soldiers' morale in Italy in WWI, little project: the mourning and commemoration of war dead in Rome, 1915-1930) are both strictly work related. The new one is... well if Iìm going to to it properly it'll still be loads of work, but it feels like fun as well. Ok, the other projects also feel like fun, cos it's what I enjoy doing. But this is ... oh feck it you know what I mean.
I want to write a moderately serious, political/ sociological study of AS Roma Ultras. I'd like to look at a brief history of the ultras movement, and of Roma ultras specifically as rooted in the history of post-war Italian and Roman political/economic/social changes. Also: a quick history of the club, on and off the pitch; the derby; ultras and politics; the current make-up of the Curva Sud; an anthropological look at ultras.
I'd like to do some stuff on the self-generated mythology which surrounds the main groups, like the CUCS, Fedayn, Boys etc., and on the all-pervasive nostalgia which seems to be a crucial part of ultradom. Since Roma fans perceive themselves as 'i tifosi più tifosi del mondo' and are to the best of my knowledge the only fans anywhere to actually sustain a daily newspaper wholly devoted to their team (no, AS and Marca don't count) I want to look at what this actually entails.
I'd like to consider the social and geographical background of Roma ultras, the way many ultra groups were born out of neighbourhood supporters' clubs in the working class districts of (especially) southern Rome, like Quadraro, Garbatella, Centocelle and especially of course Testaccio. And how does this super-campanilismo, this proud attachment not just to the city but to a small district, fit with the simultaneous trumpeting of Roma: Caput Mundi? the frequent assertions that Rome is the centre of Western Civilization as we know it.
I want to look at the political orientations of Roma ultras groups, the way these have changed over time, the extent to which these reflect or express wider political movements in Italian society, and what the implications of the (growing?) fascist section of Curva Sud might be. There are problems with racism, antisemitism and homophobia in Italian football generally, and there is a small yet active group of neofascist parties: how do these fit together? and how does the traditionally far right allegiance of the Lazio ultras fit into the picture?
Then there's interesting stuff to say about age groups, rites of passage, generational relationships and deference. And about tribalism and the ways in which it is signalled: clothing, colours, flags etc, and individual groups' songs, as opposed to songs sung by the whole curva.
Overall, it will be a study of identity, its formation and self-conscious construction. In this sense, it's not a million miles away from the main theme of my doctorate (identity formation amongst 18-30something Italian males, just in WWI rather than the Curva Sud.) I envisage it as not a full-on academic study, since I'm not qualified to write an anthropological or sociological work, but rather an intelligent high-end popular work, if that makes sense. Not densely footnoted but certainly properly referenced; not impersonal by any means, since a lot of it will entail recounting my own experiences, but less of a personal memoir than many of these things are. A more academic Season with Verona. Does that make sense?
I'm kind of nervous about this cos I've never done anything like this before, and it feels a bit like charging arrogantly into a field I'm wholly unqualified to talk about. What do people think? Good idea? Rubbish idea? Boring? already done? needs proper ethnographers? needs to be done by someone a bit more laddish? needs me to date more fascists? Those of you who read my match reports and suchlike have an idea of my general style. Your comments will be gratefully received. I may even pay attention to them, who knows.