Ethnography of Fascisms

Convenor: Charlie Barnao (University of Catanzaro “Magna Grecia”)

My political sentiments inclined toward the left

and emphasized the socialist aspects every bit

as much as nationalist ones”

(Adolf Eichmann)


What is fascism? Is fascism a social phenomenon that is strictly limited to a certain historical period? Or is it a phenomenon with specific characteristics that can occur at any time and anywhere? What are these characteristics? What are the places of fascism (and fascisms) today? What are its forms? Are fascisms only a political phenomenon? The cultures that make it up are just the extreme right-wing political cultures?

Ethnography is a privileged tool for studying cultures and has great potential (and, we can add, great responsibility) to answer these questions.

In fact, although fascism has been studied and defined in the most different ways, in its many dimensions (political, historical, economic, psychological, etc.), through the most disparate theoretical approaches and disciplines (from sociology to psychology, from anthropology to political science, from history to economics), in this session we are interested in studying fascism mainly (but, of course, not only) through its cultural dimensions.

Our main goals are to discuss the possible different definitions of fascism and suggest links – where it is possible – between the cultural dimensions of the phenomenon and the other dimensions.

Then, we want to study, “not only historical fascism, the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini – which was able to mobilize and use the desire of the masses so effectively – but also the fascism in us all, in our heads, and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us” (Foucault 1983, xiii).

Paraphrasing Hannah Arendt, we are interested in studying the “banality of fascism”: the daily “micro-fascisms” which emerge through a culture made of a set of values (including nationalism, statism, sexism, transcendence, cleansing/racism, paramilitarism, syncretism) that have been identified as typical of fascism by some studies in different disciplines.

Therefore, this session wants to collect ethnographic contributions that study fascism (and fascisms) as a culture that is articulated and practiced in social settings such as:

  • school
  • the family
  • politics
  • the  police
  • the army
  • business enterprises
  • religious institution
  • sports


Foucault, M. (1983). “Preface” in G. Deleuze & F. Guattari. Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia.  University of Minnesota Press.



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