April 30, 2009


Roger Griffin is Professor in Modern History at Oxford Brookes University, England. His recent efforts have focused on a definition and examination of fascism.

Griffin's theory of fascism, first elaborated in The Nature of Fascism (Palgrave MacMillan, 1991), suggests that a heuristically useful ideal type of its definitional core is that it is a palingenetic and populist form of ultranationalism. In other words it seeks, by directly mobilizing popular energies or working through an elite, to eventually conquer cultural hegemony for new values, to bring about the total rebirth of the nation from its present decadence, whether the nation is conceived as a historically formed nation-state or a racially determined 'ethnos'. Conceived in these terms, fascism is an ideology that has assumed a large number of specific national permutations and several distinct organizational forms. Moreover, it is a political project that continues to evolve to this day throughout the Europeanized world, though it remains highly marginalized compared with the central place it occupied in inter-war Europe.

This approach became the basis of Fascism (Oxford University Press, 1995), a documentary reader of primary sources relating to fascism; International Fascism: Theories, Causes, and the New Consensus (Hodder Arnold, 1998), a secondary source documentary reader; and the 5 volumes of secondary sources of Fascism (Routledge, 2003), which Griffin edited with Matthew Feldman and which were published in Routledge's acclaimed series 'Critical Concepts in Political Science'. This is the largest collection of secondary sources in fascism so far published in any language in a single edition.

Griffin's approach has had an enduring impact on the comparative fascist literature of the last 18 years, and builds on the work of George Mosse, Stanley G. Payne, and Emilio Gentile in highlighting the revolutionary and totalizing politico-cultural nature of the fascist revolution (in marked contrast with Marxist approaches). His latest book, Modernism and Fascism (Palgrave MacMillan, 2007), locates the mainspring of the fascist drive for national rebirth in the modernist bid to achieve an alternative modernity, which is driven by a rejection of the decadence of 'actually existing modernity' under liberal democracy or tradition. The fascist attempt to institute a different civilization and a new temporality in the West found its most comprehensive expression in the 'modernist states' of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, which also revealed the destructive and self-destructive nature of all fascist political projects to 'regenerate' the nation or achieving cultural renewal.

His latest book, A Fascist Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), edited by Matthew Feldman, contains 10 essays on the evolution of fascism since 1919, covering a range of key case-studies and historiographical themes. The book also includes contextual preface by Stanley G. Payne, introduction by Matthew Feldman and concluding interview with the author.

Together with Matthew Feldman (University of Northampton), Paul Jackson (Oxford Brookes University), and Tudor Georgescu (Oxford Brookes University) Griffin has created a Political Religions section of the Blackwell-Wiley on-line journal Religion Compass which they are determined to turn into a significant site for the dissemination of accurate and stimulating articles on political religion written by scholars from every corner of the international community and accessible throughut the world.

Roger Griffin has been Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 2003. Read more...

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