Manlio Rossi-Doria was the master and inspirer of the group of persons who today gather at the Centre named after him with the intention of carrying forward his scientific and cultural endeavour. First an anti-fascist and then an agricultural economist and an expert on the problems of Southern Italy, Rossi-Doria actively participated in Italian political affairs for a large part of the 1900s. In 1959 he founded, in Portici, the Centro di Specializzazione e Ricerche Economico-Agrarie per il Mezzogiorno (Centre for Economic and Agricultural Specialization and Research for the Mezzogiorno), a school which in many respects pioneered postgraduate education and advanced research in the social sciences.
Among the many features that distinguished Rossi-Doria’s scientific work and his extraordinary capacity to anticipate the future, to be mentioned in particular are the following: his interest in environmental issues; his concern for the European dimension in both politics and economics; his interdisciplinary approach which skilfully mixed economics, sociology, anthropology, and history.
Another feature – not at all secondary to Rossi-Doria’s capacity to understand the agricultural economy and rural society – was his commitment to territorial analysis and study of differences within the macro-areas traditionally considered by economic-agrarian studies. His distinction between “flesh and bone” is still a metaphor used by those who study Italy’s South – or, rather, its many different Souths.
In his life as a scholar, Rossi-Doria published numerous articles of importance both for their scientific content and their criticism of the economic policies adopted in post-war Italy. Rossi-Doria stance’ was connoted by a strong and explicit idealism nonetheless deeply rooted in rigorous scientific analysis.
In the past fifteen years, the Manlio Rossi-Doria Association has produced the complete edition of Rossi-Doria writings, which are still highly topical and stimulating, as well as being decidedly enjoyable to read. The Association has also begun analysis of the Rossi-Doria archive conserved at the Associazione Nazionale per gli Interessi del Mezzogiorno d’Italia (National Association for the Interests of the Italian Mezzogiorno, ANIMI), from which it has assembled a body of correspondence that testifies to his passion for the South.
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.