This special issue of «Ricerche Storiche» has come out on the occasion of its 50th year of activity. In fact, «Ricerche Storiche» was born in 1971, when Italian historiography was trying to renew itself, in part under the strong political impetus of ’68, and in part following the equally strong message that came from some foreign historiographic currents, in particular from the French school of «Les Annales», in the direction of a broadening of the field of research, affirming a tendency towards a history from below, and at the same time a history extended to other disciplinary fields. This approach was reconciled in the dimension of local history, then declined in an original way in Italy as micro-history.
From the very beginning, one of the journal’s most striking features was its strong international openness, thanks to the continuous contribution of numerous professors and researchers from the European University Institute, many of whom have served and continue to serve on its governing bodies.
«Ricerche Storiche» has thus been able to host a very wide series of essays and come out with a few monographic issues that referred to and disseminated to Italian scholars research strands, interpretative trends and developments in the historiographic debate at an international level, especially in the field of medieval, modern and contemporary history.
In addition to the scholars of the EUI, «Ricerche Storiche» has maintained and developed relations with various research groups operating internationally over the course of time. A high degree of internationalisation has also always been present in one of the journal’s characteristic strands, namely that of industrial archaeology, thanks to the organic relationships with the Italian Association for Industrial Archaeological Heritage – AIPAI and with The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage – TICCIH, the most important sector organisation worldwide.
Moreover, the journal has been interested for a long time in the field of studies that lies between popularisation and decentralised cultural elaboration, entrusted to local research centres, museums, archives and associations distributed throughout the territory; it has tried in a rather pioneering way to promote an interest in ‘Public History’ in Italy; in this way it has become interested in the theme of the relationship between History and the media. This reflection was then further consolidated with various contributions on the theme of the relationship between historical research and cultural ‘consumption’ by variously broad and differentiated audiences, in a context in which new communication technologies are profoundly changing the panorama of scientific information.
This special issue is not a ‘celebratory’ volume: rather, it aims to offer, through a forum hosting contributions from thirteen editors of the most important Italian history journals, a reflection on the role of journals in research today.