A Racist and Anti-Semitic Romanità: The Racial Laws of 1938 and the Institute of Roman Studies

Donatello Aramini


This article offers a close reading of the initiatives following the racial laws promoted by the Institute of Roman Studies, an institution operating in synergy with the political culture and imperial ambitions of the fascist regime by supporting and influencing its rhetoric of romanità and the use of symbols and myths of the “Third Rome”. Refusing the interpretation of racial laws as a temporary phase of Italian history completely alien to the country’s cultural context, the article underlines how 1938 fits into and can be reinserted into the general interpretation of the Institute of Roman Studies’ initiatives. Furthermore, it analyses the consequences of the racial legislation on the staff and collaborators employed by the Institute. The author shows that the racial laws represent an additional element of the attempt of some distinguished intellectuals to find a synthesis between the sacralisation of politics and the politicisation of religion through the myth of Rome. Spreading and trying to strengthen the national-roman version of racism, the author underlines that the Institute of Roman Studies was in the first line to shaping an interpretation that, influenced by the Catholic anti-modern thought, was no more moderate or less responsible for the persecution of the Jews than other more revolutionary positions inside the fascism. In fact, this interpretation made the concept of the Italian race even more acceptable in public opinion, strengthening and rooting it in the history and greatness of Italian civilisation throughout the centuries. Finally, the article stresses that the racial laws were a crucial moment of shaping the fascist anthropological revolution, totally supported by an Institute fully engaged in the middle of the battle for the nationalization of the masses fought by the regime and the Catholic Church between the wars



Racism; Anti-Semitism; Romanità; Fascism; Myth of Rome; Catholicism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12869/TM2020-2-08


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ISSN 2282-0043 - Registered at the Court of Rome on Nov. 8, 2012, no. 305/2012

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