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Giovanni Rossi (aka Cardias)
Anarchist collectivist, veterinarian, founder of cooperative communities.
Born on January 11, 1856 in Pisa, Italy; died 9 January 1943.

(Editor's note: apologies, this page needs updating of links, but the information is useful)

Giovanni Rossi was a veterinary doctor, influenced by the French socialist utopians. He became, in 1873, a member of the A.I.T. [International Working Men's Association (IWMA)] of Pisa. In 1878 his first book, Une commune socialiste was published, under the pseudonym of Cardias, promoting his his theory of anarchist collectivism.

Rossi was arrested in November 1878 for his anti-statist attacks, & held until April 1879, when the case was dropped.

In Brescia, in 1886, Rossi began publishing, with Andrea Costa, his newspaper "Lo Sperimentale" (The Experiment), advocating of the creation of cooperative colonies.

Cittadella Colony (Cremona), a co-operative agricultural association, l'Association agricole coopérative de Cittadella, was founded on November 11, 1887, with Rossi as its secretary. However, the peasants were loathe to participate in its collectivist efforts, causing the failure of the community.

On February 20, 1890, Rossi left Italy with a group of anarchists, from Genoa, headed to Palmeiras, Paranà, in Brazil, where they established the anarchist "Cecilia Colony".

Its population, primarily male, had about 300 members. This experiment in anarchist communism & free love lasted for about five years, running up against not only material problems, but especially emotional & sexual difficulties (due particularly to the small number of women).

The Cecilia Colony began a libertarian school, though Rossi admitted that the school for the children is open irregularly. "Instruction, music, theatre, dances, have still not been possible. The productive job has absorbed to us entirely ". (1890)

The colony dissolved in 1894, but Rossi remained in Brazil, in Taquary, then Rio dos Cedros, as director of an agricultural research station. He published the book Le Paranà au 20° siècle.

In 1907, Rossi returned to Italy, researching agricultural problems, was employed as a veterinarian & teacher, continuing to favor libertarian cooperative colonies & was an advocate for the emancipation of women.

With the onset of WWII he retired, living a withdrawn life, & died during the war, at the age of 87.

"On affirme que la révolution émancipera économiquement la femme. Il est opportun de se questionner : la femme économiquement émancipée pourra-t-elle s'émanciper des préjugés moraux de la tyrannie de l'homme? (...). Ou (les idées des hommes changeront), ou les femmes - qui ne pourront plus être des animaux gracieux et bénins - devront commencer à se préparer pour elles-mêmes à l'ultime bataille pour intégrer toute l'humanité en une libre association."

--- Giovanni Rossi

In 1976, filmmaker Jean-Louis Comolli made a film on the history of the Cecilia Colony.

Also, historian, film director & anarchist Valencio Xavier produced a short film in the 1990s: Pao Negro: Um Episodio da Colonia Cecilia. It is 40 minutes of emotion, passion & anarchy. The film presents deals with the testimony of descendants of the colony & the story of Rossi & two colonies that were bought as pieces of land in Palmeira. A book will soon also be published about Valencio & the history of this anarchist experiment in Brazil.

? ROSSI, Giovanni (Cardias): Cecilia comunità anarchica sperimentale; un episodio d'amore nella colonia Cecilia; pref. Salvo Vaccaro. (Pisa: Bibl. Franco Serantini, 1993.)

  • Colonia Cecilia: la vita in una comune. [Torino, 1978.] 98 p., ill.
  • Rossi, Giovanni, Cittadella e Cecilia. Due esperimenti di colonia agricola socialista (Reprint Assandri)
  • Isabelle FELICI, La colonia Cecilia. Fra leggenda e realtà
  • Mauro STAMPACCHIA, Due lettere inedite di Giovanni Rossi a Ruggero Grieconel settembre 1924.
  • Un comune socialista, 1876, translated & edited, together with other articles and letters from Rossi & others, by Alfred Sanftleben under the title Utopie und Experiment, Zurich 1897.
  • Unpublished handwritten manuscript of `Socialismo Pratico' by G. Rossi; one letter from G. Rossi to Alfred Sanftleben 1896; copy of printed preface to Utopie und Experiment by A. Sanftleben; some press clippings, in holdings of the International Institute of Social History,

    From: "Claudio Batistuzzo" Date: Sun, 24 May 1998

    >>I'm the greatgrandaughter of Italian anarchist Pietro Riva, from Brescia, >>Italy, who came to Brazil at the end of last century to settle here the >>"Colonia Cecilia" - an experiment of an anarchist community.
    >Can I get more information on this topic?

  • FELICI, Isabelle (52 rue Damremont 75 018 Paris) is finishing (in 1993) a Ph.D. on Italians in the Brazilian anarchist movement from 1890-1920, beginning with the Colonia Cecilia, & analyzing thirty Italian-language anarchist papers published in Brazil in the following years. (Perhaps this work is finished & published.)

    A movie named "La Cecilia" was made in 1975 by Jean-Louis Comolli (a French or Swiz, I don't recall, director). It's in French. It's referenced at the International Movie Database at:

    Numerosos italianos, españoles, alemanes, franceses, sirio-libaneses y también judíos soñaban que la emigración a la Argentina les permitiría renacer en calidad de otros en una tierra de asilo y refugio para todos los perseguidos. Algunas utopías anarquistas han dado testimonio de aquella sed libertaria que animaba a los emigrantes en búsqueda de un espacio ideal en el Nuevo Mundo, tan alejado de Europa. La breve experiencia de la colonia Cecilia, fundada en 1892 en el estado de Paraná, Brasil, por un grupo de anarquistas italianos, fue paradigmática.

    Italian immigrants also played a central role in building the smaller, but equally multi-ethnic, labor movement of Brazil. A substantial number of anarchists and socialists migrated among the hundreds of thousands of laborers attracted to Brazil before World War I. Italian radicals established the short-lived agricultural commune of Colonia c in the state of Parana,(51) but starting in the mid-1890s they concentrated in Sao Paolo among an emerging working class dominated by Italian migrants. There Italian radicals published scores of papers, provided the backbone of the country's political left, and established militant labor unions. The strength of the Italian radical influence was particularly visible in the Brazilian Workers' Federation which maintained a heavy anarcho-syndicalist character from its founding in 1906 to 1920.

    • Stadler De Souza, O anarquismo da colonia Cecilia (Rio de Janeiro, 1970).
    • Rodrigues, Os anarquistas: trabalhadores italianos no Brasil (Sao Paolo, 1984), 60-90, passim; Sheldon Maram, "The Immigrant and the Brazilian Labor Movement," in Dauril Alden and Warren Dean, ed., Essays Concerning the Socioeconomic History of Brazil and Portuguese India (Gainesville, 1977), 199-200; Michael Hall, "Immigration and the Early Sao Paulo Working Class," Jahrbuch von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas 2 (1975): 393-407; John W.F. Dulles, Anarchists and Communists in Brazil, 1900-1935 (Austin, 1973), 19; and Angelo Trento, L… dov'Š la raccolta del caffŠ, 319- 412.

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