Science, Fascism, and Foreign Policy: The Exhibition “Scienza Universale” at the 1942 Rome World’s Fair

Geert Somsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This essay analyzes the exhibition “Scienza Universale,” which was to be a central part of the 1942 world’s fair in Rome. Although in the end World War II kept the fair from happening, the plans for the exhibit were finished, and they allow for an in-depth analysis of the propagandistic uses of science in fascist Italy. The essay investigates what the regime sought to accomplish with a public display of science, why it chose to stress science’s universal character, and how various stakeholders’ motives played out in the exhibit design. Although fascism is not generally known for either its embrace of science or its internationalism, in this instance both played a major role in the way the state presented itself. “Universal Science,” as depicted in the exhibit, carried messages that were meant to promote a fascist conception of civilization and world order and to stake out Italy’s position vis-à-vis Nazi Germany in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-791
Number of pages23
JournalISIS. An International Review Devoted to the History of Science and its Cultural Influences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2017

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