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Victoria De Grazia

Moore Collegiate Professor of History
School of the Arts
History Department
617 Fayerweather Hall
  • Director, Blinken European Institute
  • Member, Faculty Steering Committee, Columbia Global Centers | Paris

Victoria de Grazia is the Moore Collegiate Professor of History and Director of the Blinken European Institute at Columbia University. She has written widely on European history, particularly on European fascism and family life, relations between the United States and Europe, and consumer societies. Her prize-winning books, widely translated, include Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance Through Twentieth-Century Europe (Harvard, 2005), How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy, 1922–1945 (Berkeley, 1991), and The Sex of Things: Consumption and Gender in Historical Perspective (Berkeley, 1994). She has taught at the European University Institute, the EHESS, the University of Bielefeld, and elsewhere in Europe and in Shanghai. She has been the recipient of the Jean Monnet Fellowship at the EUI, the Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the German Marshall Fund Fellowship, among others. From 1999–2002 she directed the Council for European Studies; she has also served on the Board of the Transatlantic Academy of the German Marshall Fund. Since 2004, she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research & Other Works
The Culture of Consent: Mass Organisation of Leisure in Fascist Italy

The efforts of fascism to form a 'culture of consent,' or shape depoliticized activities, in Italy between the world wars, make a unique portrait of fascist political tactics. Professor de Grazia focuses on the dopolavoro or fascist leisure-time organization, the largest of the regime's mass institutions. She traces its gradual rise in importance for the consolidation of fascist rule; its spread in the form of thousands of local clubs into every domain of urban and rural life; and its overwhelming impact on the distribution, consumption, and character of all kinds of recreational pursuits - from sports and adult education to movies, traveling theaters, radio, and tourism. The author shows how fascism was able, between 1926 and 1939, to build a new definition of the public sphere. Recasting the public sphere entailed dispensing with traditional class and politically defined modes of organizing those social roles and desires existing outside the workplace.

The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective

This volume brings together the most innovative historical work on the conjoined themes of gender and consumption. In thirteen pioneering essays, some of the most important voices in the field consider how Western societies think about and use goods, how goods shape female, as well as male, identities, how labor in the family came to be divided between a male breadwinner and a female consumer, and how fashion and cosmetics shape women's notions of themselves and the society in which they live. Together these essays represent the state of the art in research and writing about the development of modern consumption practices, gender roles, and the sexual division of labor in both the United States and Europe. Covering a period of two centuries, the essays range from Marie Antoinette's Paris to the burgeoning cosmetics culture of mid-century America. They deal with topics such as blue-collar workers' survival strategies in the interwar years, the anxieties of working-class consumers, and the efforts of the state to define women's—especially wives' and mothers'—consumer identity. Generously illustrated, this volume also includes extensive introductions and a comprehensive annotated bibliography. Drawing on social, economic, and art history as well as cultural studies, it provides a rich context for the current discourse around consumption, particularly in relation to feminist discussions of gender.

Irresistible Empire

Harvard University Press (2005)

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