Religion as Politics, the British Italophiles, the Far Right and Transnational Fascism 1919-45

Tamara Colacicco's picture
Call for Papers
November 3, 2017 to November 5, 2017
Colorado, United States
Subject Fields: 
British History / Studies, European History / Studies, Intellectual History, Modern European History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology


With apologies for cross-posting:



Religion as Politics, the British Italophiles, the Far Right and Transnational Fascism 1919-45

North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS)

Annual Meeting

Denver, Colorado

November 3-5, 2017

The promotion of reconciliation between State and Church achieved through the Lateran Pacts in 1929 were an important factor in Mussolini’s achievement of sympathy or explicit political consensus from abroad. From 1929 until the outbreak of WWII, Catholics in France and Britain saw Mussolini as the man who had ensured the triumph of spiritual interests that were relevant not just for Italy and the Vatican, but for all Christian humanity [Egidio Walter Crivellin, Cattolici francesi e fascismo italiano. La Vie Intellectuelle, 192839 (Milan 1984), 14-31; Tamara Colacicco, ‘Il fascismo e gli Italian Studies in Gran Bretagna: le strategie e i risultati della propaganda’, California Italian Studies 6, (2) 2016: 1-21].

Many British fascists who supported Fascist Italy’s policies and projects such as Corporatism and universal fascism were also devout Catholics who had advocated reconciliation between the Italian State and the Church prior to the late-1920s. They sincerely believed that fascism was a ‘spiritual movement’ and that the most important component of international fascism should be Fascism’s ‘religious flow’ – as in the thought of James Barnes, for example [Marco Cuzzi, Antieuropa: Il fascismo universale di Mussolini (Milan 2006), 61–2; David Bradshaw and James Smith, “Ezra Pound, James Strachey Barnes (‘The Italian Lord Haw–Haw’) and Italian Fascism,” Review of English Studies 64 (266), 2013: 672–93, particularly 676].

However, Sir Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists (BUF), while having assumed Italian Fascism as its ideal model between 1932-34, gradually departed from the Italian model after the Abyssinia attack in 1935 aligning themselves with Nazi Germany – this latter model was also followed by the Imperial Fascist League (IFL) from its foundation in 1929. While the IFL’s alignment with Nazi Germany from Hitler’s rise on power in 1933 was due to a common anti-Semitic soul, the BUF’s shift was mainly due to the idea of a mutual British-German belonging  to a ‘Nordic civilisation’ [Claudia Baldoli, Exporting Fascism: Italian Fascists and Britain’s Italians in the 1930s (Oxford - New York: Berg, 2003), 43-58]. The BUF’s shift, in all likelihood, included a common adherence to Protestantism rather than to Catholicism. However, it is certain than the IFL departure from Italian Fascism was due to its own anti-ecclesiastical flow [Thomas Linehan, British Fascism, 1918/1939: Parties, Ideology and Culture (Manchester - New York: Manchester University Press, 2000), 71-9;].

This panel aims to explore the impact of religion in politics and to discuss Catholicism and Protestantism as aspects of ‘political identity’. Furthermore, it seeks to analyse additional elements – including nationalism and support for economic theories – of Italophilia and pro-Fascist feelings that developed among British elite circles and in British attitudes in a comparative framework (which may include further realities besides those of Italy and Germany, such as Spain and Western Europe).

Finally, it aims to investigate the ‘cultural manifestations’ – for example publication and promotion of books and journal articles, broadcasting of radio programmes, deliveries of lectures and conference presentations – developed between the mid-1920s and 1945 by intellectuals of various nationalities in order to reflect on how and why Fascism/Nazism was regarded favourably in these circles, and to identify further elements on which they based their support for the European dictatorships.


Topics could include, but are not limited to:

-the impact of religion in politics;

-attitudes towards the Lateran Pacts and cultural enterprises through which these views were expressed;

-political attitudes towards Italy from abroad during the shift from liberalism to Fascism;

-the role of Protestantism in political ideology;

-economic theories and views of Corporatism;

-the impact of Fascism and Nazism on the British and foreign far right;

-the impact of racial discrimination in politics.


Proposals are accepted from scholars at any stage of their careers (postgraduate students and early career researchers are warmly invited to apply) for 20 minute papers.

If interested, please sent the following documents (Word documents are preferable) to the organiser (Tamara Colacicco) at by 27 February 2017:

  1. Name, affiliations and email address.
  2. A brief summary CV indicating education, current affiliations, and major publications (750 words maximum).
  3. Title of paper and abstract  (300 words maximum).

Files may only be submitted in English.

Many thanks in advance for your interest.

With very best wishes,


Tamara Colacicco Ph.D. in Italian Studies

Post-doc in History


Research Award Holder

The University of London

School for Advanced Study

Institute of Historical Research

Senate House



Visiting Scholar

British School at Rome

Via Antonio Gramsci 61