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Benedetta Carnaghi

Graduate Student

Benedetta Carnaghi

Educational Background

2014–present: Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. Master of Arts conferred in May 2017.

2011–2014: Diploma in History, École normale supérieure, Paris, France.

2012–2013: Master 2 Recherche Histoire contemporaine des mondes étrangers et des Relations Internationales (Master of Arts “Research” in Contemporary History of Foreign Countries and International Relations), Université Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, France.

2011–2012: Master 1 Histoire contemporaine des mondes étrangers et des Relations Internationales (Master of Arts in Contemporary History of Foreign Countries and International Relations), Université Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, France.

2008–2011: Bachelor of Arts in History, Università degli Studi di Padova & Scuola Galileiana di Studi Superiori, Padova, Italy.

Website(s)

Overview

 

I am a Ph.D. candidate in History at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 

My dissertation-in-progress, titled “Lives Under Cover: Comparative History of Fascist and Nazi Spies, 1927-1945,” is a comparative and transnational history of Fascist and Nazi spies from 1927—the genesis of the Fascist secret police, called OVRA, with which most of the Fascist spies were affiliated—to 1945. I shift the focus from institutional stories of the police to a detailed analysis of the police informers’ profiles and motives, while using history as a tool for actively engaging in the current debates about the ethical issues that surveillance poses. I underline the spies’ multi-layered subversion of values––pertaining to politics, to ideological norms about gender, and to religious values. 

My comparison between Italy, France, Germany, and Austria also highlights the international nature of this spy network, which transcended national boundaries just as spies transcended their sense of national identity, and underscores the intersection of repression and collaboration, traditionally thought of as opposite, but operating together in the spies’ lives. While scholars have given us an excellent understanding of the structure of the Fascist and the Nazi secret police, they have neglected to illuminate their imperfect human tools. We are left with the misleading impression that these police services were perfectly functioning machines of terror in the hands of a few powerful individuals. My dissertation is an immersion into everyday life in the Fascist and Nazi regimes and an attempt to give this system of repression a human face. One grasps that terror is a double-edged sword only by looking at how repression acts on ordinary human beings—which spies ultimately were.

Situated at the nexus of surveillance studies, comparative history, microhistory, and gender studies, my dissertation endeavors to question and complicate the traditional divisions between the disciplines, because a nuanced study of surveillance—by the very nature of its object—needs observant eyes and a complex set of analytic lenses.

My current work is supported by several grants and fellowships from the following institutions: at Cornell, the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, the Society for the Humanities, and the Cornell Institute for European Studies; elsewhere, the Chateaubriand Fellowship Program, the Lemmermann Foundation in Rome, Trinity College’s Cesare Barbieri Endowment, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).

Dissertation committee: Enzo Traverso (advisor), Isabel V. Hull, Claudia Verhoeven, Alya Aglan (ad hoc member)

Departments/Programs

  • History

Research

  • Modern European History with a particular focus on Italy, France, and Germany
  • Fascism and Nazism
  • World War I & II
  • History of the Resistance
  • Holocaust Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Political violence & terror

Publications

Edited Volumes:

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles & Contributions to Edited Volumes:

Book Reviews:

Blog Posts: