Manlio Rossi-Doria (1905-1988) was one of the greatest Meridionalist thinkers, in the wake of Giustino Fortunato and Francesco Saverio Nitti. In 1924 he enrolled in the School of Agriculture of Portici (which in 1936 became the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Naples), and, since his university years, devoted himself to the world of agriculture and to the unsolved problems of the Italian Mezzogiorno. As an active anti-fascist, he was arrested and sentenced in 1930 for subversive activities, granted amnesty in 1935, then arrested again in 1940 and confined in Basilicata.From confinement he participated in the foundation of the Action Party, joining its Executive Committee in 1943. He then played a leading role in the political life of the Republic when he was elected to the Senate for the Italian Socialist Party, in the college of Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi, in 1968 and then again in 1972.
His scientific commitment as an agricultural economist was characterized by a deep and continuous intertwining with institutional experiences and responsibilities: from 1944 to 1948 he was commissioner for the Istituto Nazionale di Economia Agraria (National Institute of Agricultural Economics, INEA) and, in the seventies, he was counselor of the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno. In 1948 he was appointed professor of Agricultural Economics and Policy at the Faculty of Portici. After the war he contributed to the Agrarian Reform. In 1959 he founded the Centro di Specializzazione e Ricerche Economico-agrarie per il Mezzogiorno (Center for Economic and Agricultural Specialization and Research for the Mezzogiorno). From February 1981 until the day of his death on the 5 th of June 1988, he was President of the Associazione Nazionale per gli Interessi del Mezzogiorno d’Italia (National Association for the Interests of the Italian Mezzogiorno, ANIMI). His scientific contributions stood out in post-war Italy for their rigour, international insight and multi-disciplinary approach. His work has been farsighted, in research directions such as environmental issues and the European dimension of economic and institutional analysis of the Italian primary sector. He has been a mentor and a reference for generations of economists for the rigour of his analysis and for his lucid and pleasant prose. His writings deal with issues that are still topical today.
Today, the Rossi-Doria Centre is engaged in further examination of the archive, which is still largely unexplored. Currently available is a selection of letters on the subject of Europe that Rossi-Doria exchanged over several decades with scholars of such calibre as Altiero Spinelli, Pietro Nenni, and others; but further lines of archival research are being planned.
The Manlio Rossi-Doria Association for Study and Research, founded in 1996, was directly inspired to the scientific, political and cultural heritage of Manlio Rossi- Doria and his fruitful interdisciplinary approach. The Association aimed to promote study, research, training and dissemination in economics and economic policy, with special focus on agriculture, environment, land and development.
The Association has published a new edition of Rossi Doria’s complete work, as well as his unpublished correspondence.
In 2000 the Association took over the journal QA-Rivista dell’Associazione Rossi-Doria. The journal has been directed by Michele De Benedictis, Fabrizio De Filippis, and finally by Anna Giunta and Luca Salvatici. Publication was interrupted in 2014. In the same year the Association was closed
The Association collaborated with the Manlio Rossi-Doria Centre for Economic and Social Research in some of its early research and publishing projects. At the end of 2014 the Association was closed and many of its members joined the Centre for a more effective action.
Founder and Chair, Associazione per Studi e Ricerche Manlio Rossi-Doria
Honorary Chair, Manlio Rossi-Doria Centre for Economic and Sociali Research
In 1989 Michele De Benedictis was the first agricultural economist to be elected Fellow of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the most prestigious Italian Scientific Academy. In 1996 he was among the founders of the Associazione per Studi e Ricerche Manlio Rossi-Doria of which he has been President throughout its life. In more recent years he was awarded Lifetime Membership by the International Association of Agricultural Economists. He was emeritus member of the European Association of Agricultural Economists and by the Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
His research interests concentrated in two main areas:
– theoretical issues and quantitative methods applied to production economics: his work was instrumental in accelerating the “modernization” of agricultural economics research in Italy in the area;
– agricultural production and structural adjustment in Agriculture in Southern Italy, with particular emphasis on issues linked to efficiency and equity.
In 1979 Michele De Benedictis published -with Vincenzo Cosentino- Economia dell’Azienda Agraria, a production economics textbook that made profound innovations in the traditional teaching of farm management in Italy and that represents the major output of his research efforts during this period.
Later on his research interests moved toward agricultural policy, with specific attention to the problems of the Common Agricultural Policy, international economics and international trade and, more recently, neo-institutional economics and its potential implications for agricultural economics research.
Throughout is prolific career Michele De Benedictis wrote more than 150 scientific papers in Italian, English, French and Spanish.
Biography of Michele De Benedictis (Italian)
Il percorso biografico e scientifico di Michele De Benedictis, by Anna Carbone and Roberto Henke.
In: Michele De Benedictis: scritti scelti 1964-2008, edited by Anna Carbone, Fabrizio De Filippis and Roberto Henke, edizioni l’ancora del mediterraneo, 2009
On Sunday 10th January 2016, Professor Michele De Benedictis, at the age of 88, passed away.
The Rossi-Doria Centre Board warmly and gratefully remembers him.