Liliosa Azara

Roma Tre University

Science of Education Department

Roma Tre University

Teaching: Contemporary History – Women’s History

Liliosa Azara, is professor in Contemporary history at Roma Tre University (Department of Education Science) where she teaches contemporary and women’s history.

Her research interests focus on the critical reconstruction of the evolution of sexual habits and prostitution in XXth century Italy; her research is characterized by a political-institutional approach, as well as a specifically ideological and cultural orientation. She has published extensively on these themes, including contributions to volumes and research journals. Her latest works include: L’uso “politico” del corpo femminile. La legge Merlin tra nostalgia, moralismo ed emancipazione (2017) and I sensi e il pudore. L’Italia e la rivoluzione dei costumi (1958-68) (2018); Prostitution in Italy: the Merlin law and biological predetermination (Women’s History Review, 30, 2021. Special issue: Work, poverty and policy).

She carries out international study and research activity, especially related to gender history, with a focus on the emergence, after the first industrial revolution, of a specificcategory of woman, oscillating between crime and poverty, devoted to what was perceived as a dangerous sexuality. She studies the marginalization of prostitutes, strongly enforced by European governments in the XIX century and the consequent criminalization process. In particular, she focused her studies on the State-regulated prostitution in Italy, rebuilding the entire regulation roadmap, from the first Cavour regulations to the so-called Merlin law which, in 1958, definitively brought to a close the reality of the maisons closes (case chiuse), in Italy. 

She is now working on the institution of the female Police force in Italy with a focus on portraying the political/institutional debate and public reaction in the press and media in the Italy of the Sixties and Seventies. The research is informed by a comparative approach and ranges from the broader context of women in (a greater number of) State careers, to the denial of full recognition of rights of citizenship in Republican Italy, to the role of female representation in State institutions, alongside diehard prejudices that limit political participation.

She is author of several publications, including: Lo Stato Lenone. Il dibattito sulle case chiuse in Italia 1860-1958; Educare al sesso senza sentimenti. Il mito delle case chiuse; L’Uso politico del corpo femminile. La legge Merlin tra nostalgia, moralismo ed emancipazione; La prostituzione: una questione morale o una tutela della famiglia borghese? Identità negate tra occultamento e criminalizzazione nelle “case chiuse”. Sensibilità e pregiudizi di genere; Dallo spirito alla lettera. La tutela della madre e del bambino dalle politiche assistenziali nazionali alle convenzioni internazionali. I sensi e il pudore.