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The Annual Gaetano Salvemini Colloquium in Italian History and Culture

Italy's Great War: A Centennial Perspective


October 21, 2014
5:30pm - 7:00pm
Lower Level Conference Room, Busch Hall
October 21, 2014
5:30pm - 7:00pm
Lower Level Conference Room, Busch Hall
Video recording 1h:36m

The Salvemini Colloquium is named in honor of the Italian anti-fascist historian who spent much of his career as a professor in the Harvard Department of History. Since 2012, the Colloquium is an annual event at the Center, open to the Harvard academic community and to the public. It is organized with the generous support of the Consulate General of Italy in Boston. The video of this event is available on the CES YouTube channel.

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Abstract: One hundred years ago next spring Italy entered World War I after a long and bitter debate whose divisions prefigured those that led to the advent of a fascist regime seven years later. The country lost as many soldiers as the British Empire; it suffered a catastrophic defeat in 1917. Yet paradoxically it fought a far more effective war than it would in World War II, and it preserved for the duration a liberal regime at home. As for results, its long-term adversary disappeared from the map and it was rewarded with great strategic territorial gains -- none of which assuaged, however, a growing illiberal nationalism. How should we judge this vastly paradoxical and transformative experience -- how should a nation remember so mingled a legacy?

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