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HPI Research Forum on October 3, 2018
〝The Heart of a Fascist: Teruzzi in Italian Cyrenaica, 1927-1929-1931″
By Victoria de Grazia, Moore Collegiate Professor of History, Columbia University
The Hiroshima Peace Institute held an HPI Research Forum as follows:
“The Heart of a Fascist: Teruzzi in Italian Cyrenaica, 1927-1929-1931”
2. Date & Time:
October 3, 2018, Wednesday, 18:00-20:00
Seminar Room 2, Satellite Campus, Hiroshima City University
4-1-1 Otemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima
4. Abstract of Forum
Attilio Teruzzi, a major fascist hierarch, later Commander of the Black Shirts (1929-1935) and Minister of Italian Africa (1939-1943), was Governor of Italian Cyrenaica (Libya) from 1927 to 1929, and was still a player, at Mussolini’s command, in Cyrenaican affairs in 1929-1931 when General Rodolfo Graziani, his successor, at the direct orders of the Military Chief of Staff, conducted the infamous war against the native rural civilian population of Cyrenaica, hunting down and murdering their leaders, rounding up, concentrating them behind barbed wire in detention camps, and walling in from Egypt the Bedouin peoples of the region. By 1931, Fascist Italy had killed as many as 100,000 of the native Cyrenaicans, destroyed the religious and civic infrastructure built over the previous half-century by the Islamic Sanusiyya, and wiped out the once rich ecology of animal and agricultural stocks.
Teruzzi was an equivocator. He was an old colonial soldier, a Fascist New Man, the civilian Governor, with his Jewish American wife as his helpmate, a builder at Benghazi, a “poet,” he would characterize himself, as well as military commander of this once prosperous area of Libya. He was all of this at the very moment that the Fascist regime was defining how to position itself as the coming great power in the Mediterranean and North Africa vis a vis the Franco-British dominated imperial order
Here, I use this equivocal figure (the subject of the social-moral history of fascist rule, I am just completing) to probe the fascist-imperialist dynamics of the Il Duce’s command system as they first emerged at the turn of the 1930s.
Nobody yet has given an effective rendering of why the Fascist regime resorted to such an appalling level of violence, starting in 1928, breaking with the codes and laws of the Versailles colonial system (Japan’s invasion of Manchuria comes after), and then having to account for, cover up, and find legitimate arguments for its genocidal politics in the face of international protests, but also adverse Italian national opinion. Teruzzi’s equivocations about Fascist policy time and again testify to that endeavor, to the horrific over-kill—and to the eventual success of both the cover-up and the justifications to normalize Fascistic illegalities within the framework of the Western international order.
5. Profile of Victoria de Grazia
Victoria de Grazia, Moore Collegiate Professor of History, was educated at Smith College, University of Florence, and Columbia University where she received her Ph.D. in history with distinction in 1976. Before joining the Columbia faculty in 1994, she taught at Rutgers University. Her research interests lie in contemporary history, with longstanding commitments to studying western Europe and Italy from a gendered perspective and to developing a global perspective on commercial revolutions. Her publications include: Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance Through Twentieth Century Europe (2005); The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective (ed., 1996); How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy, 1922-1945 (1992); The Culture of Consent: Mass Organization of Leisure in Fascist Italy (1981). She is currently writing a book about intimacy and power in Fascist Italy.