Brandon University prof to speak on antifascism in fascist Italy

October 21, 2020

    A Brandon University history professor who is an expert on pre-Second World War Italy will be leading a workshop and introducing a film that explores fascism and antisemitism in fascist Italy. The event, organized by the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, will be held via Zoom on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 25. It is free but requires pre-registration.

    BU’s Dr. Bruce Strang kicks off the afternoon with a moderated workshop at 1:30 p.m. to discuss antisemitism in facist Italy. Dr. Strang, who is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society as well as a Professor of History at BU, has previously published books on pre-war fascist Italy. He is currently working on a book about Italian post-war political and economic reconstruction.

    “The Shoah in Italy is a story of tremendous sadness, marked also by the triumph of human spirit that rose against oppression and racism in defence of life and decency,” Dr. Strang said.

    Although most Italian Jews survived the Second World War, the Italian Fascist government aimed to eliminate Jews from the economic, cultural, and spiritual life of the country in a misguided defence of the Aryan Italian race against perceived Jewish infiltration.

    “Mussolini’s government applied racial concepts similar to those in Nazi Germany, showing the abhorrent effects of social Darwinism and racism that corrupted Italian society,” Dr. Strang said. “The Jewish community showed a mixture of resistance, acquiescence, and avoidance. Those the regime targeted as Jewish had to find ways to survive as the government and much of the country turned against them.”

    His talk will also consider ways in which modern Italy continues to grapple with issues of racism and memory of the Shoah some seventy-five years after the end of the Second World War.

    Following Dr. Strang’s presentation will be one by Dr. Jeremy Maron, who is curator of Holocaust and genocide content at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Starting with the Roberto Benigni film “Life is Beautiful,” Dr. Maron will explore unconventional representations of the Holocaust.

    To close out the afternoon will be a group viewing of “Figli del Destino” or “Children of Destiny.” The 2019 film tells the story of four Italian children facing the exclusion of Jews from Italian society with legal measures in some ways harsher than those in Nazi Germany. Director Marco Spagnoli will participate from Rome, with a question-and-answer session to follow.

    Anyone interested in registering for the discussion and film can learn more and sign up at JHCWC.org/programs. There are also links to pre-readings that will inform the discussions.

    For more information, please contact:

    Dr. Bruce Strang
    Professor, History
    204.727.9754
    StrangB@BrandonU.CA

    Grant Hamilton
    Director, Marketing and Communications
    204.571.8542
    HamiltonG@BrandonU.ca

    To receive any BU publication in an alternate format: Communications@BrandonU.ca