Fascism: A One-Day Discussion

Dec 10, 2022, 9:45 am6:00 pm
Laura Wooten Hall, Room 301 (Kerstetter Room)
Free and Open to the Public (registration required)


Event Description

History of Political Thought Project

Registration is required, click here.

Perspectives of fascism have shifted substantially. What had once seemed to be primarily a historical phenomenon has become one which has at least as much relevance to our uncertain present. Consequently, the energies deployed by historians in recent decades on understanding the political, intellectual and social lineages of the explosion in right-wing radicalism which occurred from the 1920s to the 1940s is now accompanied by a focus on the range of insurgent political movements that have come to the fore since the end of the 1980s, and which now constitute a central factor of politics in many areas of Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Questions of definition are central to these present-day debates: how far does it serve a useful purpose to apply the ‘f-word’ to such movements, of the present and the past? Or should we temper such terminology by the addition of a qualifying term, such as semi-fascism or authoritarian fascism? Or indeed reject it entirely in favour of alternative terminology, such as populism or the extreme-right? Behind such debates, there lies of course a more substantive question. How valid is it to join together the present and the past of fascism? Do they form two elements of a single model of politics, or do attempts to join them together become all too easily a facile game of analogies, whereby external resemblances, and internal ideological echoes distract from understanding them as discrete phenomena rooted in their particular time and space?

The purpose of this one-day gathering is to bring together scholars of fascism in the present and the past. They will be drawn from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, intellectual backgrounds, and areas of geographical expertise. However, they all share an engagement with understanding the complex dynamics of fascism – however defined – in the present and the past. The purpose of the day will therefore be to encourage discussion between scholars of different disciplines, national backgrounds, and generations, focusing respectively on questions of ideology, of political presentation, and of definition.

Convened by:

Martin Conway                                                                                      
Jan-Werner Müller

Contributors include: Christian Bailey, Victoria De Grazia, Philip Decker, Eric Fassin, Udi Greenberg, Erika Kiss, Kim Lane Scheppele, Federico Marcon, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Sam Moyn, Nadia Urbinati, and Joseph Vogl 


9.45                 Introduction

10.00-12.00   Session One: Fascism: Lessons in the Past?
                              Chair: David Bell

                              Vicky De Grazia, The Invention of Fascist Governmentality: 1925-1940
                              Federico Marcon, The Advantages and Disadvantages of ‘Fascism’ as a 
                              Heuristic Concept: A Historical-Semiotic Perspective

                              Philip Decker, The Great Retreat of Stalinism as a Nazi Actors’ Category
                             Joseph Vogl, Capitalism and Ressentiment

1.00-3.00        Session Two: Fascism: Issues of definition

                             Chair: Jan-Werner Mueller
                             Christian Bailey, Fascism and political religion
                             Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Does "Fascism" as a category illuminate the present?
                             Kim Lane Scheppele, The misguided concept of fascism
                             Nadia Urbinati, “But who are They?”

3.15-5.00       Session Three: Fascism: Dead or Alive?

                            Chair: Martin Conway
Eric Fassin, Neofascist anti-intellectualism vs the democratic politics of truth
Udi Greenberg,  Gender, Labor, and Militarism: The Radical Right’s Departures from Fascism
Erika Kiss, Lookism through the Lens of Movies
Sam Moyn, Trump and fascism

5.15                   Concluding Discussion  

  • University Center for Human Values
  • Center for Collaborative History, Department of History