Fascism and Italian-American Culture
Literature on the Fascist regime’s reaches in the Americas has a distinguished history going back to Gaetano Salvemini, whose recording of, and sharp commentary, provides today’s scholars with an invaluable source. In the 1970s, John P. Diggins began groundbreaking research in this field, followed in the next decades by Phillip V. Cannistraro and other international scholars. In the past two decades, with a large amount of primary sources still untapped, research has began to investigate the modalities through which Fascism sought to control Italians abroad and, through them, maintain relations with countries that were not under totalitarian rule. Italian Americans’ self-images during those years were shaped by propaganda, foreign press reports, economic interests, and the establishment of the Fascist League of North America on the one hand, and by the Regime’s cultural and educational showcases along with a network of local police informants, on the other.Fascism, however, was forced to adapt its methods to the requirements and style of the American society and values producing ambiguous cultural and political categories that continued to operate after Mussolini’s fall and the end of World War II. How did the Italian American community and their leadership negotiate their position and role within the larger horizon of the relations between the US and Italy and the US and the Catholic Church? How did ethnic leaders and intellectuals of Italian background interpret the relation between dictatorship and democracy within the Italian communities in the US? To what extent were Italian American radicals also antifascists? How did they respond to Fascism and what relations did they develop with the mainstream Italian American population, by and large supportive of Fascism, and with various factions of Italian antifascist in exile?This seminar is a first step toward addressing these questions by analyzing some aspects of Fascist outreach in America, its reception and consequences.
New York City, NY; NYC