Upcoming Events

Book Chat: The World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy

Join IES and the Department of Italian Studies for a discussion with Professor Pamela Ballinger (University of Michigan) about her recent book, The World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy (Cornell UP, 2020).

In The World Refugees Made, Ballinger explores Italy’s remaking following the loss of its territorial possessions in Africa and the Balkans, the repatriation of Italian nationals from those territories, and the integration of these “national refugees” in the post-World War II period. The presence of displaced persons also posed the complex question of who belonged, culturally and legally, in an Italy that was territorially and politically reconfigured by decolonization. Ballinger’s analysis of the postwar international refugee regime and Italian decolonization illuminates the study of human rights history, humanitarianism, postwar reconstruction, fascism and its aftermaths, and modern Italian history.

Speaker: Pamela Ballinger is Professor of History and the Fred Cuny Chair in the History of Human Rights in the Department of History at the University of Michigan. She holds degrees in Anthropology (B.A. Stanford University, M. Phil Cambridge University, M.A. Johns Hopkins University) and a joint Ph.D. in Anthropology and History (Johns Hopkins). She is the author of History in Exile: Memory and Identity at the Borders of the Balkans (Princeton University Press, 2003), La Memoria dell’Esilio (Veltro Editrice, 2010), and the World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy (Cornell University Press, 2020). She has published in a wide range of journals, including Austrian History Yearbook, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Contemporary European History, Current Anthropology, Journal of Contemporary History, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Journal of Refugee Studies, Journal of Tourism History, and Past and Present. Her areas of expertise include human rights, forced migration, refugees, fascism, seaspace, and modern Mediterranean and Balkan history.

Moderated by Mia Fuller, Associate Professor of Italian Studies and Director of the Program for the Study of Italy

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Ray Savord at rsavord@berkeley.edu or 510-643-4558 with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.



 Ray Savord,  rsavord@berkeley.edu,  510-643-4558

Religion and Culture in Early Modern Italy. New Questions and Approaches

2 day Zoom Workshop

The history of the transformations to Italian religious life that occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has been a battleground for centuries. Confessional, political and ideological commitments have infused and shaped representations both within academia and in the broader public sphere. Historians have argued vehemently about and vacillated between competing and overlapping paradigms, often signaled by the use of specific terms to describe the period. From its coining in 1776 by the German jurist Johann Stephan Pütter, the “Counter Reformation” asserted the reactionary and forced re-Catholicization of Protestant lands and the often draconian suppression of heterodoxy in Catholic lands. By contrast, the “Catholic Reformation” emphasized the Church’s own internal efforts to reform its institutions, theology and the morality of the faithful. Moving beyond the debate over the spiritual drivers of reform, historians turned to the paradigm of “confessionalization”, linking religion and secular politics and asserting convergences between Catholicism and Protestantism and the rise of the modern state. Returning to “Counter Reformation”, others warned against ignoring or deemphasizing the repressive apparatus of the Catholic Church’s institutions and have illuminated various mechanisms of “social discipline” that sought to condition the behaviors and mentalities of the laity. Most recently, some scholars have adopted the capacious and flexible yet elusive terms “early modern Catholicism” or “the World of Catholic Renewal”, seeking to emphasize the diverse early modern and globalizing features of the faith, its practitioners and institutions.

Today, all these terms coexist, often uneasily, and continue to shape research projects. Instead of taking sides on the never-ending controversy over how to label, research and tell the story of religious change in early modern Italy, the goal of this workshop is to bring together some of the most innovative recent work on the period by a new generation of scholars. The participants, coming from European, Israeli and North American scholars, showcase the plurality of approaches used today to study the epoch that is still commonly referred to as the “Counter-Reformation”. Reflecting the two different backgrounds of the two conveners, the workshop was also born out of the effort to bridge the gap between Italian and Anglo-American scholarship that often run on two parallel tracks ignoring each other.

Italian Studies, Public Humanities, and Abolition


What are the luminous potentialities and the pernicious limits of the public humanities, especially when thought together with the field of Italian Studies? Is the so-called ‘public turn’ yet another aleatory trend that wishes to save our endangered disciplines, or can it be embraced as a generative way to bridge the hiatus between the academe and political activism? And lastly: with the scarcity of job opportunities and the proliferation of precarious teaching appointments, is the engagement with the public humanities a privilege for the academic elite, as recently articulated by Feisal G. Mohamed in the Chronicle of Higher Education (“I Love the Public Humanities, But…”, 2021)? Valeria Dani will attempt to answer these and other pressing questions during a conversation that will delve into her current abolitionist work as a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow for the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison. Throughout this discussion and in light of her experience, we will explore the space of radical politics as young scholars, the constant negotiation between opacity and legibility that arises in activist spaces, and the positionality of Italian Studies within anti-racist, anti-capitalist praxis.

Valeria Dani recently received her Ph.D. in Italian Studies from Cornell University, after previously studying at La Sapienza in Rome and The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her research, which variously employs hermeneutics and Jewish mysticism, focuses on contemporary poetry with strong interests in critical theory, feminism, and film studies. An active translator of Italian theory (Giorgio Agamben, Where Are We Now?), she is currently carrying out a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship (2020-2022).

Annual Marie G. Ringrose Graduate Lecture

Due to continued health concerns and recommendations, the Ringrose Committee has decided to postpone the Ringrose lecture until Spring 2022, when they should be able to have an in-person event.