Were racialist policies adopted in Italy under Fascism determined solely by foreign policy choices, in particular by the tight alliance with Hitler, or were they also based on home-grown root causes and motivations? Were racism and anti-Semitism essential elements of Fascism? What role did scientists and intellectuals play in the shaping of racial policies? These are some of the crucial issues which have featured prominently in recent historiographical debates aiming to shed light on the origins and implementation of the anti-Jewish racial legislation introduced by the Fascist regime in 1938. With this book Giorgio Israel returns to this topic and accurately documents how state-sponsored racism was supported by theories provided by the world of Italian science, including anthropology, eugenetics, and demography. University academics witnessed the expulsion of Jewish scientists and contributed to the regime's racial policies, later (after the war) conveniently "forgetting" the compromises they had made, in a process of repression that in some cases continues to this day.
Giorgio Israel teaches History of Mathematics at La Sapienza University in Rome.