University of Cambridge > > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Researching Fascism and War Veterans: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches

Researching Fascism and War Veterans: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches

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This paper gives an analytical and critical overview of the different ways in which historiography has approached the historical relationship between veterans and Fascism during the interwar period. I argue that, until now, the different explanatory models employed by historians have not resolved the conundrum of the existing link between veterans and Fascism. After highlighting the importance of clarifying this historical issue, I will critically explore different theoretical and methodological approaches employed by historians, from social and political history to cultural history. These different approaches include: the paradigm of the ‘brutalization’ thesis; the identitary/anthropological approach; the studies on war culture; the focus on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes (DDR); and on cultural demobilization. While pointing at the weaknesses of all these historiographical options, I will devote particular attention to two ways of analysis that can provide further insights on the relationship between veterans and fascism, namely the comparative analysis of fascistization processes and transnational history. In order to show the suitability of these methodologies, I will give some examples from my own empirical research, particularly on the history of the Francoist veterans of the Spanish Civil War. With this paper, therefore, I will underline the need of introducing innovative approaches to understand the crucial, albeit highly complex, connection between violent war experiences and fascism.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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