Ctrl: A Day on Fascism

Caio Brighenti, Maroon-News Staff

We all have our morning routines. Some of us shower, some of us skip breakfast, some of us listen to our morning playlists. While none of our routines are entirely the same, I’m sure there’s something we all do: ignore the daily 9 a.m. “Campus Calendar” email.

Look, I get it. We all get so many emails throughout the day and have so much going on that it’s hard to pay attention to anything non-essential. And of course, I can’t be too critical, given I read maybe 10 percent of Campus Distribution emails. But I’m going to argue that maybe we should start reading those emails, and consider what we might be missing out on.

Last Friday there was a nearly full-day series of workshops on Fascism in Little Hall. Organized primarily by two professors—Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Africana & Latin American Studies, Jonathan Hyslop and Assistant Professor of Art & Art History, Laura Moure Cecchini—and supported by an impressively long list of departments and groups on campus, the event brought together over a dozen scholars for a series of panels and discussions on Fascism. While each speaker presented generally on Fascism, the specific topics varied greatly, from discussing resistance to Fascism through artistic representation to considering whether modern-day far-right movements might be called Fascism.

I was intrigued when one of my professors announced she was canceling one of our classes, instead requiring us to attend two of the four workshops on Fascism. I’d heard that the event was happening, but hadn’t seriously considered attending. Sure, there are always cool events going on around campus, but we’re just so busy with classes. But, as this was required, I made my peace with the fact that’d I’d be losing much of my precious Friday free time and decided to attend the first and third sessions.

As the first lecture—a short talk by Cornell professor Enzo Traverso regarding “Fascism as a Transhistorical Concept”—progressed, I became more and more interested in the rest of the day’s events. If the first talk piqued my interest, the next I attended—by Professor R. M. Douglas—enthralled me. I realized this event was much more than just the classic department lecture, where one speaker presents his ideas and then awkwardly fields questions while uninterested students pour out of the room. In- stead, it was an impressively sizeable collection of academics, all of whom had their own perspectives and academic experience, discussing and building upon each other’s works throughout the day.

While I wasn’t able to attend all sessions, I decided I’d also attend the third, fourth, and follow-up discussion. What followed was a captivating series of lectures, each more interesting than the last. Moreover, after each session finished the group of academics would raise questions, dis- cuss similarities between different talks, and provide suggestions for developing each idea further. This is what I found the most interesting—being able to watch professors sharing ideas and collaborating in real time, building upon the work each of them has done over decades of scholarly work was easily one of the most intellectually fulfilling experiences I’ve had at Colgate.

I walked away from the final discussion unable to stop tossing around in my head what I’d learned. The sheer number of different perspectives presented, questions raised and concepts challenged throughout the day left me with a lingering sense of curiosity and academic wonder.

I also left the event reconsidering my morning routine. I hadn’t thought twice about this event, and I definitely would have missed it without my professor requiring attendance. How many more events like this have I missed through neglecting those morning calendar emails? It’s time we stop thinking about outside-of-class events with derision and recognize that they can actually be terrific experiences, even worth losing out on a few hours of Friday free time.

Contact Caio Brighenti at [email protected].