Ruth Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and a political commentator and cultural critic who has received Guggenheim, Fulbright, and other fellowships. An expert on fascism and its memory, authoritarian rulers, Donald Trump, and propaganda, she’s an in-demand explainer in print and on camera for BBC World News, Clarin, Correio Braziliense, Yahoo News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Dagens Nyheter, Le Nouvel Observateur, Sky News, Democracy Now!, and other outlets. See The New Yorker and Haaretz features on her work, her essays on Trump for The Atlantic, her Slate History of Fascism podcast, her discussion of Trump’s predatory masculinity on The Chauncey DeVega Show, and her CNN.com profile, with her widely circulated columns on Trump and Bannon’s attacks on our state and Trump’s authoritarian playbook – both of which predicted subsequent events – and what may come next.
Book her for speaking engagements (English and Italian) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben-Ghiat grew up in Pacific Palisades, California, where many famous exiles from Nazism relocated. Hearing about their struggles shaped her interest in investigating what happens to societies when authoritarian governments take hold. How do strongmen stay in power, and why do so many people stay loyal to them no matter what they say or do? What are the fates of those who resist? Fascist Modernities (2004, trans. La cultura fascista, 2004) answers these questions, as does her award-winning study of Fascist war propaganda, Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema (2015).
Her activities as a public intellectual reflect her conviction that the humanities have a vital importance today and that historical and critical thinking can help us to decipher our troubled times. In 2014 she created and guest-edited a popular multi-media series for CNN.com for World War One’s 100th anniversary .
Ben-Ghiat has extensive experience in academic administration, with expertise in program building, globalization, and how institutions can address declining humanities enrollments. She chaired the NYU Italian Studies Department from 2005 to 2013, guiding it to become one of the top such departments.
She sits on the Board of Directors of the World Policy Institute, and in 2013 received an Award for Outstanding Service for her work for the Scholar Rescue Fund of the Institute of International Education.
Follow her on Twitter @ruthbenghiat.