BSR Online Lecture | “We die everywhere for Italy”: commemoration of Fascist martyrs in New York and Naples during Mussolini’s early rule


Amy King (Bristol)

This event will take place via Zoom and requires advance registration. Please click here to reserve your place.

On 30 May 1927, a group of Blackshirts set off from their homes in the Bronx to participate in the Memorial Day parade. Shortly after, two of the party were killed by anti-fascists on the stairs of the Third Avenue Railway. The clash created the first Italian American Fascist martyrs; their bodies lay in state at the local fascio in the Bronx for several days and their funeral included a parade through the streets of New York. Signifiers of Italian and North American national identity were present throughout; this was a transnational event. Through an examination of ceremonies held in Italy and the U.S., including the journey of the bodies back to Italy, this paper adds a transnational element to the study of the role of secular martyrdom in the construction of collective identity under Fascism. Far from weakening the symbolic power of the deaths, the transnational quality of public commemoration strengthened the meaning that could be derived from the martyrological narrative, suggesting that sacrifice had occurred in the name of ideological values that transcended national borders and forming part of Mussolini’s early imperial rhetoric.

Amy King is a Lecturer in Italian and Liberal Arts at the University of Bristol, where she received her PhD in 2019. Her research interests include secular martyrdom and collective memory, transnational memory cultures and the politics of memory. She is currently writing a monograph for Palgrave Macmillan analysing the memory of Italy’s 1973 Rogo di Primavalle, a subject she addressed in a recent article in Modern Italy.