F – Solidarities, internationalisms, and global movements

Anti-fascism in a global perspective: Transnational networks, exile communities, and radical internationalism

Event Details

  • Date

    Thursday, 25 June - 13:00 – 15:00

    Thursday, 25 June - 15:30 – 17:30

    Friday, 26 June - 9:00 – 11:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    F – Solidarities, internationalisms, and global movements
Convenor
  • Kasper Braskén (Åbo Akademi University)
  • David Featherstone (University of Glasgow)
  • Nigel Copsey (Teesside University)
Chair
  • Holger Weiss (Åbo Akademi University)
Commentator
  • Lisa A. Kirschenbaum (West Chester University)
Panelists
  • Nigel Copsey (Teesside University)
  • David Featherstone (University of Glasgow)
  • Cathy Bergin (University of Brighton)
  • Kasper Braskén (Åbo Akademi University)
  • Sandra Pujals (University of Puerto Rico)
  • Ariel Lambe (University of Connecticut)
  • Bernhard H. Bayerlein (Ruhr-University Bochum)
  • Ylva Perera (Åbo Akademi University)
  • Steven Hirsch (Washington University)

Papers

  • Nigel Copsey
    Diasporic anti-fascism in the 1920s: The Italian radical experience in the English-Speaking World

    Diasporic anti-fascism in the 1920s: The Italian radical experience in the English-Speaking World

    This chapter will analyse resistance to Mussolini’s fascism amongst Italian immigrant and exile communities in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. No fewer than 14 million Italians left their country of birth over the period 1876-1915, followed by a further 4.5 million in the period 1916 to 1945. Not only did Italians settle in large numbers in Europe but also in both North and South Americas. Some ventured further still. According to the 1921 census there were 8,135 Italians in Australia.What will be innovative about this chapter is that it will have a genuine comparative focus. Research to date has involved country-based studies and there is a dearth of comparative study. This chapter demonstrates that in the English-speaking world of the 1920s, it was sovversivi anarchists, rebels who comprised the vanguard of radical diasporic anti-fascism. How was their anti-fascism framed? How did these immigrant and exile communities interact with one another? And, how did they did they interact with other anti-fascists within their host societies? Was there a common experience, or was the anti-fascism of the Italian diaspora divergent?
  • David Featherstone
    Anti-Fascism, Anti-Colonialism and the Contested Spaces of Maritime Organising

    Anti-Fascism, Anti-Colonialism and the Contested Spaces of Maritime Organising

    This paper seeks to contribute to understandings of the diverse articulations between anti-fascism and anti-colonialism by exploring the role of black maritime workers in challenging the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. One of the relatively under-researched aspects of the mobilisations against Mussolini’s invasion was that of black seafarers and dockworkers who refused to handle cargo bound for Italy and Ethiopia and also targeted key symbolic sites such as Italian consulates (Makalani, 2011). This paper locates this opposition in the context of the broader relations between black maritime workers and left politics in this period. It does this through exploring the relations between figures in British ports who were integral to this anti-fascist/ anti-colonial organising such as Chris Jones/ Braithwaite and Harry O’Connell to earlier Communist-led organising such as that of the Seamen’s Minority Movement which was in turn part of the International of Seamen and Harbour Workers. By tracing the diverse trajectories of seafarers in British ports from Caribbean and West Africa, some of whom by 1935 had broken with Communism and became involved with organisations such as the International African Friends of Ethiopia and some of whom were still committed Communists, I draw attention to the diverse articulations between anti-fascism, anti-colonialism and left internationalism in the inter-war period. I also explore the ways in which some ships which became targeted.
  • Cathy Bergin
    African American Internationalism and Anti-Fascism

    African American Internationalism and Anti-Fascism

    In the black radical press the Spanish Civil War is often imagined as the locus for an international anti-colonial and anti-fascist struggle in which the African diaspora has a vested interest. This is not a random and isolated moment of Utopian sloganeering. It is the culmination of very particular race/class politics which emerged in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution, the anti-colonial struggles in Ireland and India, Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia and the experiences of a variety of black activists and writers living through the horrors of American racism between the wars. By the late 1930’s The Crisis could claim that in Harlem “Spanish Freedom and Negro freedom were made to be synonymous.” The Anti-colonial call which had been recently mobilised in the face of fascist aggression in Ethiopia was seized upon in the context of Franco’s Spain. Nearly 100 African Americans joined the Lincoln Brigade to fight for Spanish Republic. This paper traces the powerful, if complex, connections between anti-fascism and anti-colonialism which evidence an ambitious race conscious internationalism.
  • Kasper Braskén
    "Make Scandinavia a Bulwark against Fascism!” Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Transnational Anti-Fascist Movement in the Nordic Countries

    "Make Scandinavia a Bulwark against Fascism!” Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Transnational Anti-Fascist Movement in the Nordic Countries

    Hitler’s rise to power on 30 January 1933 provided an urgent impetus to stage transnational anti-fascist conferences and rallies on a global scale. One of the first European, but almost completely overlooked major conferences was organised in Copenhagen in April 1933 in the form of a Scandinavian Anti-Fascist Conference. It formed a transnational meeting point of European and especially Scandinavian workers and intellectuals that provided an important first response to the rise of Nazi Germany. The chapter will use the Scandinavian conference as a prism to look both backwards at anti-fascist activism in the Nordic countries during the preceding years and follow its transformation process after 1933. It will contribute to the global analysis of the transition period of communist-led anti-fascism from the sectarian class against class line to the inception of the popular front period in 1935. What were these largely overlooked, first anti-fascist articulations and manifestations in Europe, and how were they connected to the rising transnational and global anti-fascist mobilisation coordinated in Paris and London? Among others, it brings to light anti-fascist practices, confrontations between fascists and anti-fascists, including the role of workers, intellectuals, women, and the youth. The chapter shows that Hitler’s rise to power, on the one hand, vitalised anti-fascism in Scandinavia but that it paradoxically, on the other, further sharpened the communist critique of reformist social democracy and empowered social democratic anti-communism. The chapter is based on new original archival research in the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow.
  • Sandra Pujals
    'Con saludos comunistas': The Caribbean Bureau of the Comintern, Anti-imperialist Radical Networks, and the Foundations for an Anti-fascist Culture in the Caribbean Basin, 1927-1935

    'Con saludos comunistas': The Caribbean Bureau of the Comintern, Anti-imperialist Radical Networks, and the Foundations for an Anti-fascist Culture in the Caribbean Basin, 1927-1935

    Between 1930 and 1935, the Caribbean Bureau of the Comintern, the intermediary agency for communist internationalism in the Caribbean Basin, outlined a new political and cultural framework for radical activity in the region. By the early 1930's, as the rise of fascism increasingly became a central focus of the Comintern's European agenda, the Caribbean Bureau systematically mapped an organizational course in which the interpretation of the international scene, including the fascist threat to European peace and stability, was intertwined with images of the local reality. This subliminal mental formula related to iniquity at both sides of the Atlantic provided an infrastructure for future united-front, anti-fascist initiatives in the hemisphere, such as the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, and Mexico's support of the Allies after 1941. It also created methodological foundations for the ideologically eclectic, international anti-fascist campaigns that were, nevertheless, sometimes formatted according to the communists' former experience in Latin America since the late 1920's. This presentation examines the origins and evolution of the anti-fascist enterprise in the Caribbean Basin, between the second half of the 1920's and 1935. The discussion underscores the role of Comintern-supported, anti-imperialist initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean before 1935 as an inadvertent testing ground for future anti-fascist propaganda campaigns during the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War at both sides of the Atlantic. It also focuses on the development of a mental conveyer belt for ideas that subliminally equated the heinous nature of imperialism to that of fascism. Organized as a culturally-recognizable set of icons related to injustice and violence, the formula contributed to the local populations' understanding of fascism as evil, and promoted the public's support for future anti-fascist campaigns beyond ideological lines.
  • Ariel Lambe
    ‘A great example of international solidarity’: Cuban Medical Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War

    ‘A great example of international solidarity’: Cuban Medical Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War

    Over 1,000 Cubans volunteered on the side of the Republic during the Spanish Civil War—more by far than from any other Latin America country—and a small number of these men and women were medical volunteers. Predating by decades the present-day program of Cuban medical aid abroad, Cuban medical volunteers in Spain exemplified an early “glorious epoch of internationalism,” in the words of one Cuban history. Their international solidarity work made up part of a large, vibrant, domestically-sited but transnationally-linked movement of Cuban antifascism. Investigating the stories of six individual Cuban men and women who served as medical volunteers in Spain, the chapter explores several broad and important themes regarding Cuban antifascists: the significance of their transnational identities and experiences, the way in which they situated their antifascism in Cuban domestic politics, the nature of their connections to the international left, and in some cases the ambivalence of their politics and character. Human stories both illuminate and complicate political stories in the chapter, contributing to a nuanced view of Cuban antifascism as a whole. Additionally, by examining Cuban anti-fascist medical aid in Spain the chapter contributes to ongoing discussions about global practices of anti-fascism and, moreover, invites inclusion of this 1930s Cuban effort in a broader consideration of transnational and global medical aid initiatives.
  • Bernhard H. Bayerlein
    Soviet Anti-colonialism and the Failure of Comintern Anti-fascism

    Soviet Anti-colonialism and the Failure of Comintern Anti-fascism

    Mussolini’s imperial war against Ethiopia in 1935 was unofficially backed by the Soviet Union whereas in the same year, the Comintern supported anticolonial movements and the military uprising of the Alliance for National Liberation in Brazil. Based on new archival insights the paper aims to map and discuss the Soviet anti-colonial rupture in Africa and the Comintern’s defeat of the revolutionary upheaval in Brazil as an entangled caesura for communist strategy on a global scale – especially connected to that of anti-fascism and anti-colonialism – and as a prelude to the forthcoming Republican defeat in the Spanish Civil War. Only two months after the creation of "Italian East Africa", with Eritrea and Somaliland as a central pillar of the fascist imaginary ("Mare nostrum"), Franco launched his putsch against the Spanish Republic receiving strong military support from Italy and Germany. With the Spanish defeat, the pendulum in Europe definitely turned out in the direction of fascism and the Soviet Union's alliance with Nazism after the Stalin-Hitler Pact. At his time, the fate of the Comintern was already sealed. With the pact of the year 1939 the breach was once again reinforced, what could only speed up the dissolution of the Comintern four years later. The striking disentanglement between the Comintern and Soviet Communist Party on anti-fascism and anti-colonialism, which has been epitomized here, was never entirely reversed.
  • Ylva Perera
    Tracing antifascism in the Finland-Swedish literature of the 1920's through 1940's

    Tracing antifascism in the Finland-Swedish literature of the 1920's through 1940's

    The fight against the rising tides of fascism in the early 20th century took many forms, one forum of resistance being that of fiction. In my research I explore the traces of antifascist politics found in the contemporary literature of the Swedish speaking minority of Finland. I focus on authors such as Elmer Diktonius, Hagar Olsson, Eva Wichman and Mirjam Tuominen, discussing how politics, ethics and artistic expression are intertwined in their works, while contextualizing their views on literature and politics within the Finland-Swedish minority of the time, as well as within a wider international community of antifascist writers.
  • Steven Hirsch
    South American exiles, transnational networks, and the making of Peru’s Anarchist Movement(s), 1900-1920

    South American exiles, transnational networks, and the making of Peru’s Anarchist Movement(s), 1900-1920

    Peruvian anarchism, unlike its counterparts in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, was not influenced significantly by European working-class immigration and transatlantic anarchist networks. Instead, South American anarchist exiles and deportees in Peru played an instrumental role in fostering transnational anarchist networks and what David Featherstone calls “subaltern articulations of cosmopolitanism" and solidarity. This paper analyzes the ways Argentine and Chilean anarchist exiles in Peru acted as go-betweens linking Peruvian, Argentine, and Chilean anarchist movements and promoted anarchist and labor internationalism. It also examines how South American anarchist exiles were assimilated into Peru’s anarchist movement(s).

Abstract

The history of interwar anti-fascism has been dominated by studies confined to national contexts and Eurocentric frameworks. Recent studies have significantly broadened the field and revealed the significance of transnational connections for the European anti-fascist movement. Still, the global history of anti-fascism has remained largely unexplored, analytically disconnected, and in the margins of national narratives. These two panels bring together a group of leading scholars on the history of anti-fascism that will present a first comprehensive analysis of anti-fascism from a transnational, comparative, and global perspective. The proposed panels are based on the forthcoming edited volume Anti-Fascism in a Global Perspective: Transnational Networks, Exile Communities, and Radical Internationalism (Routledge, spring 2020). The volume is edited by the panel convenors (Kasper Braskén, David Featherstone, and Nigel Copsey) and aims to initiate a critical discussion on the varieties of global anti-fascism and to explore the cultural and political articulations of anti-fascism in global contexts, places and spaces. It will through a number of interlinked case studies examine how different forms of transnational anti-fascism was embedded in various national and local contexts during the interwar period and investigate the interrelations between local articulations and the global movement. Through doing so it will explore the diverse trajectories, agency and solidarities shaped by transnational anti-fascist political activity and enable an innovative global comparison of anti-fascist articulations and practices. In a global perspective, anti-fascism was e.g. by necessity connected to ideas of anti-imperialism, anti-racism, and black internationalism. How were anti-fascist cultures of resistance transferred through transnational connections, and how were they re-articulated/interpreted in various national, ethnic, cultural and political settings? How were anti-fascist solidarities embedded in multiethnic spaces and in the context of European imperialism and anti-imperialism? In which ways were anti-fascist solidarities and resistance cultures forged in contact-zones where political exiles, European and non-European immigrant communities initiated anti-fascist alliances and how did they affect the articulations of anti-fascism? The edited volume is partially based on draft papers presented at three panels organised, first, at the 2016 European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC) in Valencia (World History Network), secondly, at the 2017 ENIUGH Congress in Budapest and, thirdly, at the 2018 ESSHC in Belfast (World History Network). Several new authors have joined the volume after 2018 and, as the final results are going into print, we propose to launch the book at the 2020 ENIUGH Congress in Turku in order to discuss and present it to a broader audience of global historians and area specialists. The panels present a new state of the art in the research field but strive also to discuss future paths of transnational and global research. We therefore kindly propose to the ENIUGH organising committee that two double panels be reserved in the program according to the following format.