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'What Remains?': Fascist and National Socialist Antiquities and Materialities from the Interwar Era to the Present Day

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Timothy J. Schmalz.

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Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, along with other twentieth-century authoritarian regimes, have often attempted to create consensus through propagandistic reinterpretations of the classical past. As recent scholarship has shown, the Fascist appropriation of romanità and Nazi philhellenism were not only conditioned by prior cultural receptions of antiquity, but were also a key political tool in motivating and mobilizing citizens to fulfill the aims of the fascist state.

Once Fascism and Nazism had fallen, the material legacies of both regimes then became the object of destruction, reinterpretation and memory work. Thus, the archaeological and architectural heritage of these regimes, now tainted by their ideology, has not only suffered the consequences of damnatio memoriae in the aftermath of regime change, but continues even today to inflame contemporary public debate.

This interdisciplinary workshop will bring together a group of international experts, including historians of Germany and Italy, classicists, archaeologists and art historians, to explore the complex relationships between antiquity and materiality, both during and after Fascism and National Socialism. Our aim is to examine the shifting conditions of the reception of antiquity under dictatorial regimes, and the fate of fascist material legacies from the aftermath of the Second World War to the present day.

The workshop is a joint collaboration between the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, the Department of Archaeology, and the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge. It will be the first of a series of workshops on the theme of Heritage and Dictatorship, and has been awarded generous funding by the new Cambridge DAAD Research Hub for German Studies. It will also form a launchpad for ‘Claiming the Classical’, a new network for scholars interested in political appropriations of the classical past.

Organized by Dr. Helen Roche (Faculty of History), Flaminia Bartolini (Department of Archaeology), and Timothy J. Schmalz (Faculty of History)


START OF WORKSHOP [10-10.30 am] Helen Roche / Flaminia Bartolini: Introduction: On Fascist and National Socialist antiquities and materialities


[Chair: Tim Schmalz]

Jan Nelis (Ghent) – On Fascist and National Socialist Classicism

Han Lamers (Oslo) / Bettina Reitz-Joosse (Groningen) – Architecture and Material Culture in the Latin Literature of the ventennio fascista

Helen Roche (Cambridge) – German Philhellenism and the reception of Winckelmann during the Third Reich



[Chair: Helen Roche]

Joshua Arthurs (West Virginia): Burning Paper and Crushing Bedbugs: Iconoclasm, Memory and Expectation during the Fall of Mussolini

Clare Copley (Central Lancashire) – National Socialist Prestige Buildings and the Postwar Urban Landscape

Flaminia Bartolini (Cambridge): From Iconoclasm to Heritage: Renegotiating the Fascist Past in Contemporary Italy



[Chair: Flaminia Bartolini]

Aristotle Kallis (Keele)

Hannah Malone (FU Berlin)

Jimmy Fortuna (Cambridge)

Martijn Eickhoff (NIOD)

Donna Storey (Melbourne)

OPEN DISCUSSION - including all of the participants


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