Rethinking Dictatorship: Latin Europe in the Interwar Period

Ben  Whitlock's picture
March 23, 2017
Subject Fields: 
European History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Nationalism History / Studies, Political History / Studies, World History / Studies

In the 1920s, the decade of pacifism and internationalism, three authoritarian regimes reached power in Southern Europe: in 1922, Mussolini brought Fascism to Italy; in 1923, Primo de Rivera took power in Spain and, in 1926, a military coup succeeded in Portugal. A number of historians have recently emphasised that the emergence of dictatorships was typical rather than exceptional in interwar European history, adding an important counterweight to work on the League of Nations that tends to exaggerate the role of liberal internationalism in this period. Furthermore, recent works have shown that shifting the focus away from Nazi Germany and from hard-power politics provides historians with a very different narrative of interwar Europe. The aim of this workshop is to assess the place of the Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese dictatorships in European history, as well as to discuss the significance of culture, propaganda, and soft power in the historical narratives of authoritarianism and imperialism. More specifically, we seek to consider the existence and significance of a particular kind of ‘Latin European’ dictatorship in the interwar period. The workshop will thus intervene decisively in current debates on interwar European history and propose an alternative reading of European politics in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

Location: Villa Salviati (Sala del Camino) Via Bolognese, 156 50139, Florence, Italy


15:00   Panel, chaired by Paul Ginsborg (University of Florence) 

Welcoming address by Lucy Riall (European University Institute)

Giulia Albanese (University of Padua), author of Dittature mediterranee. Sovversioni fasciste e colpi di Stato in Italia, Spagna e Portogallo (Editori Laterza, 2016), an overview of dictatorship in interwar Italy, Spain, and Portugal.

Discussed by Marla Stone (Occidental College)

Benjamin Martin (University of Uppsala) , author of The Nazi-Fascist New Order for European Culture (Harvard University Press, 2016), revisiting the Fascist-Nazi axis through cultural policy-making.

Discussed by Christian Goeschel (University of Manchester)

Nadia Vargaftig (University of Reims), author of Des Empires en carton. Les Expositions coloniales au Portugal et en Italie, 1918–1940 (Casa de Velázquez, 2016), revisiting dictatorship beyond Europe through colonialism and propaganda.

Discussed by Gaël Sánchez Cano (European University Insitute) 

16:00   General discussion

Should you wish to  attend the workshop, please register online at Please contact Benjamin Whitlock at for the readings. 

Contact Info: 

Benjamin Whitlock

Department of History and Civilization | European University Institute

Villa Salviati, Via Bolognese 156 | 50139 Firenze | Italy