Cultivating Fascism: Wine and Politics in Mussolini’s Italy
I am currently working on a book manuscript which explores the way in which vino came to be viewed as an ‘Italian’ beverage among the peninsula’s middle- and upper-classes both during and after the interwar years. More broadly, it seeks to illuminate the various ways in which influential agro-industrial organizations co-opted, and in some cases actively shaped, the regime’s “reclamation” and mass mobilization campaigns by promoting the consumption of their industry’s foodstuffs and beverages as a “national duty.” Informally led by the indomitable Arturo Marescalchi, the country’s Industrial Wine Lobby frequently beseeched Italy’s bourgeois consumers to replace their families’ consumption of foreign, or “exotic,” beverages, such as tea, coffee, beer, and cocktails, with the peninsula’s ‘healthy’ and ‘fashionable’ vini tipici (typical wines). By analyzing the varying ways in which the country’s luxury winegrowers, merchants, and industrialists, in partnership with Mussolini’s Fascist dictatorship, sought to rebrand Italy’s typical wines as the country’s “millennial” national beverages, therefore, this study intends to illuminate, as well as expand our understanding of, the complex dynamics of political agency and culture-shaping power in interwar Italy.
Co-translated and co-edited, “Whoever Is Redeemed, Redeems”: The Collected Writings of an Ex-Italian Volunteer in the International Brigades
In 1937, an Italian “communist” from north-eastern Italy boarded a passenger train headed for France. His final destination, however, would not be in Strasbourg, Marseilles, or Paris but, rather, Catalonia and the front line trenches of the Spanish Civil War. Having volunteered for the International Brigades in order to fight the spread of Fascism in interwar Europe, he was immediately arrested upon his return to Italy and, after a brief show trial, sentenced to “confino politico” (political exile) on a remote penal colony island in the Adriatic Sea. While there, he produced a number of writings—all desperately flattering towards Fascism and the Duce’s dictatorship—in an attempt to curry favor with the regime and, in so doing, liberate himself from his unwanted Southern captivity. Having discovered this collection of still-unknown and -unpublished writings in Rome—which includes a 60-page political memoir, a screenplay for a feature-length film on the Spanish Civil War, and a short essay on the “Italian race,” among other writings—I am currently translating and editing them with another scholar with the intention of publishing them, along with an editor’s introduction, as an annotated sourcebook.