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Comparing the cultural history of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany

21.03.2019 - 22.03.2019

International workshop organized by Hannah Malone and Christian Goeschel


Freie Universität Berlin Berlin, Fabeckstraße 25, 14095
Holzlaube, room number 2.2051
21–22 March 2019

The regimes of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany were bound by ideological, diplomatic,
cultural, and eventually, military ties. Although those ties wove deep connections between the
two countries, the histories of interwar Germany and Italy have largely been written following
parallel lines. Attempts to compare the two countries are relatively few and present
methodological problems. Since the early 2000s, however, there has been a renewed interest
in the relationship between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, as evidenced by recent work on
the comparative history of Europe’s principal fascist regimes, and new transnational studies on
Italy and Germany in the 1930s and ‘40s. Despite these contributions, conversations between
historians of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany still happen quite rarely, perhaps because of the
specialized nature of academic networks. Hence, this workshop aims to bring together
historians of Fascism and National Socialism with the objective of fostering exchange and
collaboration. It will offer a forum in which historians of Italy and Germany can compare
findings, draw parallels, and discuss common concerns.
The workshop is part of a wider project in order to establish an international network on the
comparative history of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The groundwork for this project was
laid in a preliminary workshop that we held at the University of Cambridge in June 2017, and
which focused on the challenge of reconnecting the social and political histories of interwar
Italy and Germany. At the workshop in Cambridge, it became clear that most comparative
studies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany concentrate on the political and social spheres, in
part because they are driven by efforts to define generic fascism in political thought. This
approach is of limited use when looking at the culture. This is why, at this workshop, we will
focus specifically on new directions in the cultural history of the two regimes. Contextualized
with questions of power and propaganda, cultural perspectives expose significant points of
contact between Italy and Germany, which have often been overlooked. Sessions will
encompass both comparative and transnational approaches to art, architecture, music, theatre,
craft, aesthetics, literature and other areas of culture, with a particular attention given to cultural
diplomacy and propaganda. At the end of the workshop, a discussion will provide an
opportunity to reflect on the methodological challenges facing the field. These include practical
difficulties, such as disciplinary boundaries, separate networks, and linguistic knowledge, but
also epistemological questions about the specificity of national contexts, the uniqueness of
National Socialism, and the existence of distinct historical paths. The workshop looks at how
these theoretical questions might be addressed by comparing the ideology, aesthetics,
functions, and styles of the Fascist and Nazi regimes.

Zeit & Ort

21.03.2019 - 22.03.2019

Freie Universität Berlin
Fabeckstraße 25
14095 Berlin

Holzlaube, room number 2.2051

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