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Seminar: Of the Jewish Race

30Apr5:30 pm7:30 pmSeminar: Of the Jewish Race5:30 pm - 7:30 pm(GMT+00:00) Italian Jewish Studies SeminarItalian Jewish Studies Seminar

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What the documents – Italian legal, administrative, and judicial sources – showcase emphatically is the central role of lawyers in the Race Laws implementation, laws that address who could own radios or homes, who could operate a business, who could marry whom, and of course, who is legally Jewish.

The legal approach is novel to the historical discourse on this time period, which has previously focused on political and social perspectives. Livingston writes in the book: “As compared to Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, Fascist Italy offered at least a limited amount of independence to judges and lawyers, and a courageous few used this independence to ameliorate or limit the damage resulting from the laws. But many others expanded them and, by providing technical assistance in drafting and interpreting the Race Laws, lawyers were indispensable in making the laws effective.” According to Livingston, the Race Laws were incredibly pervasive, took too long to be repealed, and produced irreparable damage. The most positive aspect of their existence is to now serve as a haunting lesson for any law student or future attorney. Again, he writes: “Did the formally legal character of the laws, notwithstanding their apparent immorality—which in any case is likely to be more visible now than it was at the time– help to explain their reception by the Italian population and the Jews themselves? What are the lessons for the training of future lawyers and the prevention of further Holocausts?”

Ariela Gross is the John B. and Alice R. Sharp Professor of Law and History at the University of Southern California. Her book, What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America (Harvard University Press, 2010) examines the legal history of racial identity, showing how the relationships of race have affected claims of citizenship over the past 150 years. “This book reminds us that the imaginary connection between racial identity and fitness for citizenship remains potent today and continues to impede racial justice and equality.”

David I. Kertzer has been the Dupee University Professor of Social Science since coming to Brown in 1992. He is also professor of anthropology and Italian studies. His books include Comrades and Christians: Religion and Political Struggle in Communist Italy (Cambridge University Press, 1980); Politics and Symbols: The Italian Communist Party and the Fall of Communism (Yale University Press, 1996); The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican’s Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism (Knopf, 2001) The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Random House, 2014). In 2005 Kertzer was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Michael A. Livingston is Professor of Law at the Rutgers School of Law, Camden. Professor Livingston has published extensively on tax law, comparative law, and other subjects, including articles in the Yale Law Journal, the Cornell Law Review, the Texas Law Review, and the American Journal of Comparative Law. He has taught at Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, the University of Graz and Cornell University, and has lectured at various universities in Italy, Israel, and the United States. Professor Livingston’s course on law and the Holocaust, which has been taught in three different countries, is one of the few of its kind in American law schools.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is Professor of Italian Studies and History at New York University and an associate researcher at the Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent. She is a specialist on 20th century European history, with Italy a particular focus. She writes and lectures about war, including the relationship of war and cinema; on fascist regimes and their aftermaths; and on empires and their dissolution. She has received Guggenheim, Getty, Library of Congress, Collegio Carlo Alberto, NEH, and other fellowships.Her latest book, Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema, (Indiana University Press, 2015), won the Modern Language Association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Best Unpublished Manuscript in Italian Studies. She is now working on Prisoners of War: Italians in French, German, and British Captivity, 1940-1950.

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