US-E AntiRacism — Catholicism and the “Negro Question”: Religion, Racism, and Antiracism in a Transnational Perspective (United States and Europe, 1934-1968) — is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions research project, funded by the European Commission, and hosted by the Università di Genova with the partnership of Fordham University (New York). Its overall objective is to write a cultural history of ‘interracialist’ ideals and practices across church networks, outlets and intelligentsias, in order to point out how an increasingly globalized focus on the Black Question has framed a new Catholic antiracist sensibility, from the age of the “overtly racist regimes” (G.M. Fredrickson) up to decolonization and the civil rights era.

Our researchers

MSCA Research Fellow, University of Genoa – Fordham University

Matteo Caponi

Matteo Caponi (joint PhD Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa – Université Paris Ouest Nanterre-La Défense, 2010; Laurea Università di Firenze, 2004) is Marie Curie fellow at the University of Genoa (Italy) and visiting scholar at Fordham University, NYC. He is also a founding member of the editorial board of the journal Modernism. Rivista di Storia del Riformismo Religioso in Età Contemporanea (Romolo Murri Foundation, Italy). His current research project Catholicism and the “Negro Question”: Religion, Racism, and Antiracism in a Transnational Perspective (United States and Europe, 1934-1968) aims at writing a cultural history of the circulation of ‘interracialist’ ideals and practices across church networks, outlets and intelligentsias, so as to point out the way and the limits within which antiracism became gradually mainstream in the Catholic panorama.
During his education and post-doctoral training at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Dr. Caponi has been focusing on religious history, with particular emphasis on the relationship between Catholicism, nationalism, warfare, and war remembrance. His PhD dissertation Una Chiesa in guerra, which was published in 2018 by Viella, is an investigation of an important case study during the First World War (the diocese of Florence) addressing the most significant topics of war mobilization. Furthermore, he explored the problem of political sanctity: in particular, the way St. Francis of Assisi has been imagined as the patron saint of Italy. His book on this subject, Il patrono dell’Italia repubblicana, is expected by the end of 2021.
Among his more recent publications are: “Traces des guerres mondiales dans les cathédrales italiennes”, in X. Boniface and L. Dessaivre (eds.), Cathédrales en guerre XVIe-XXIe siècle (2020); “«Con eterna voce al mondo intero ammoniscono fraternità»: i ‘martiri di Kindu’ e il culto dei soldati caduti per la pace”, in M. Paiano (ed.), Pietà e guerre del Novecento/ Piety and Wars in the Twentieth Century, special issue of Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà (2019); “I cattolici italiani e l’insurrezione ungherese del 1956: anticomunismo, violenza insurrezionale, martirio”, Italia Contemporanea (2017). He also edited Santi patroni: politica, religione, identità nell’Europa del secondo Novecento (special issue of Rivista di Storia del Cristianesimo, 2017) and co-edited Modernismo e antimodernismo cattolico nella Grande Guerra (special issue of Modernism, 2017).
Professor of Contemporary History, University of Genoa

Francesco Cassata

I am Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Genoa (DAFIST). I have published on the history of eugenics and scientific racism in Italy, on the history of Lysenkoism in Italy, on the history of genetics and molecular biology. I am member of the History of Race and Eugenics Research Group (Oxford Brookes) and of the International Working Group on Lysenkoism (CUNY, New York). I am also member of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Comparative Fascist Studies (Comfas). I am editor-in-chief of the Annals of the Luigi Einaudi Foundation. An interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science.
Select publications: Science-Fiction? 7th Primo Levi Lecture (Einaudi, 2016); Eugenetica senza tabù. Usi e abusi di un concetto (Einaudi, 2015); L’Italia intelligente. Adriano Buzzati-Traverso e il Laboratorio internazionale di genetica e biofisica (Donzelli, 2013); Building the New Man. Eugenics, Racial science and Genetics in Twentieth Century Italy (Central European University Press, 2011); “La Difesa della razza”. Politica, ideologia e immagine del razzismo fascista (Einaudi, 2008).
Professor of Contemporary History, Fordham University (US)

Silvana Patriarca

My main body of work has focused on the cultural construction of the nation in modern Italy, but recently I have become increasingly interested in the intersection between nation and race. I am currently investigating the intersection between nation and race in post-fascist and postcolonial Italy while also trying to understand the modalities of anti-racism in the culture of the 1960s and 1970s. My book on the racialization of the biracial children born in Italy at the end of the Second World War is due to be released by the end of 2021. An early article based on this project and entitled “Fear of Small Numbers: ‘Brown Babies’ in Postwar Italy” appeared in Contemporanea. Rivista di storia dell’ ‘800 e del ‘900 in 2015. In 2018 I also co-edited a special issue of the journal Modern Italy devoted to “Nation, ‘Race,’ and Racisms in Twentieth-Century Italy.”

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 794780.


Credits on pictures. Courtesy of the William D. Walsh Family Library, Fordham University, New York, USA (Interracial Review, 1962-1963); American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, USA (“Catholics in Action”, Treasure Chest, 26 March 26 1953, p. 33: Catholic University of America Digital Collections http://hdl.handle.net/1961/tc_vol08no15); Nigrizia (Giuseppe Tusiani, “La non-violenza del dott. King”, Nigrizia, January 1960, pp. 23-24); Ufficio Storico Pime, Milan, Italy (Le Missioni Cattoliche, December 1964, p. 548).