Brookes at the Epicentre of Fascist Studies
Friday, 04 May 2018
After 30 years spent researching and teaching fascism, Professor Roger Griffin from Oxford Brookes University has now co-founded the first international association for the comparative study of fascism.
Last week the Central European University in Budapest held the inaugural conference of The International Association for Comparative Fascist Studies (ComFas). Professor Roger Griffin, who is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost experts on the socio-historical and ideological dynamics of (interwar) fascism and (postwar) neo-fascism, was a major driving force behind the launch.
Roger joined Oxford Brookes University in 1974 to teach a course on the History of Ideas and focus on the role of values and ideologies in shaping Modern History. He co-taught a course on theories of fascism with Robert Murray, Head of Humanities, who then gave him the chance to develop his own approach to its definition. This became the basis of his DPhil, which then turned into his first and best known book The Nature of Fascism (1991).
Largely ignored for several years, the book is now considered the starting point for a highly productive wave of new work in comparative fascist studies which has come to be contributed to by scholars from all over the Europeanized world.
Roger says “Gradually the jigsaw puzzle of interwar fascisms is being completed, their links with each other and to other forms of the right are being mapped, their unique political, social and cultural profiles are being explored, and their relationship to post-war varieties of fascism and other forms of the extreme right clarified.”
As a result of Modernism and Fascism (2008), Roger was invited by the Dutch cultural historian and biographer, Madelon de Keizer to hold a seminar in Amsterdam, which led the periodical publishers Brill (Leyden) to invite him to be the co-founder of Fascism: Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies. The success of this journal led to the next step, the creation of ComFas, of which Roger was also the co-founder.
Roger attributes his research in these enterprises, and his parallel work on terrorism, to the unusual and far-sighted flexibility of Oxford Brookes to encourage lecturers such as himself to develop research-led teaching in specialist areas with the ambition to have an impact on the international academic community of fellow experts. He claims that “In contrast to many traditional universities where exams are set anonymously by exam boards, History modules at Brookes allow lecturers to give lectures and set assignments that introduce students to the latest publications and research, and place them at the cutting edge of the discipline. This is invigorating for both staff and students, and enables the best essays and dissertations to already exhibit postgraduate qualities of originality and creativity, and maintains enthusiasm for making major contributions to the development of the discipline.”
Roger Griffin is Professor in Modern History in the School of History, Philosophy and Culture at Oxford Brookes University.