“The First Antifa: Italian American Radicals and the Fight against Mussolini in the Little Italies”

Speaker: Professor Marcella Bencivenni

In this talk, historian Marcella Bencivenni discusses the struggle against fascism in the Little Italies during the interwar period. Drawing on her pioneering research on Italian immigrant radicalism, she shows how a vigorous resistance, coming from the whole spectrum of the Italian American left, crystallized as soon as news of the March on Rome reached American shores. Fighting fascism became the new raison d’être and “an all-consuming passion” for Italian labor activists in America. From the early 1920s through the end of the war, they waged a massive campaign against Mussolini and his fascist emissaries, exposing—through speeches, articles, literature, art, and countless demonstrations—the true nature of fascism and countering the regime’s version of italianità with their own alternative internationalist vision based on equality, democracy and freedom. This understanding of the organizing efforts of Italian radicals helps to connect the current antifa uprisings to past struggles for democracy, suggesting that America’s first organized opposition to fascism originated in the Italian American labor movement and its transnational vision for a better world.


Tue, December 8th at 5pm – 6pm


This event is brought to you by the Italian Studies Department as part of the Fall 2020 series: Eccoci qua: In-house lectures at the Casa Italiana Zerilli – Marimò


Attend via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85437940058

Meeting ID: 854 3794 0058


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