“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” Benito Mussolini’s formulation remains one of the most enduring definitions of modern totalitarianism. Italy’s Fascist regime was the first to declare itself totalitarian, and it envisioned a radically new social order engineered by the state. But to what extent did all facets of Italian life genuinely reside “within the state”? What was the scope of Fascism’s totalitarian project, as well as its limits? How did Italians variously negotiate, resist, and exploit the dictates of Mussolini’s regime?
Drawing on the frameworks of Alltagsgeschichte (the history of everyday life), Arthurs, Ferris and their collaborators propose new answers to these persistent questions. Their analytical sites include social encounters, relationships, and work; gestures, clothing, and comportment; language, emotion, and memory. What people wore and ate, how they greeted one another, how they navigated and negotiated the demands of daily life – these choices have much to tell us about the “unofficial relations” of power under a repressive and interventionist regime.
Associate Professor of History at West Virginia University
Joshua Arthurs is the 2015-16 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Rome Prize Fellow in Modern Italian Studies at the American Academy in Rome, and an Associate Professor of History at West Virginia University. He is currently completing a book manuscript tentatively titled Forty-Five Days: Experience, Emotion and Memory during the Fall of Mussolini, and, along with Michael Ebner and Kate Ferris, co-editing the volume Outside the State? The Politics of Everyday Life in Fascist Italy (to be published by Palgrave MacMillan). He is the author of Excavating Modernity:The Roman Past in Fascist Italy (Cornell University Press, 2012).
Lecturer in Modern European History, University of St Andrews
Kate Ferris is a lecturer in Modern European History at the University of St Andrews. She is currently the holder of an AHRC Early Career Fellowship for a research project investigating the consumption of alcohol and the functioning of spaces associated with alcohol consumption (bars, osterie, trattorie etc.) in fascist Italy. Her research interests lie in 19th-20th century Italy and Spain and, more specifically, in every-day life history and the ‘lived experience’ of dictatorship and in questions of cultural production and reception at local, national and trans-national scales of analysis. With Josh Arthurs and Michael Ebner, she is co-editing the volume Outside the State? The Politics of Everyday Life in Fascist Italy. She is the author of Everyday Life in Fascist Venice, 1929-1940 (Palgrave MacMillan: 2012) and has a volume currently in press on nineteenth-century Spain, Imagining America in late nineteenth century Spain (Palgrave MacMillan, forthcoming).