• Italian Soldiers Surrendering to the British, North Africa, 1941. Imperial War Museum.

  • Trump and Berlusconi: Two Authoritarian Personalities

  • Women and the U.S. Military: A Long History

  • The World War Two Combat Film. Un Pilota Ritorna, Roberto Rossellini, 1942

  • The Age of Counter-Insurgency: American Sniper, Clint Eastwood, 2015

  • Italian Fascist Propaganda: Mussolini Behind the Movie Camera, 1937


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    Sounds and Silences in Empire Cinema. Lo Squadrone Bianco, Augusto Genina, 1936.

RBG 2015Ruth Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. She has received Guggenheim, Fulbright, Library of Congress, Getty, and NEH fellowships for her interdisciplinary work on war, fascism, empire, and the politics of images. Her books and essays use an innovative mix of visual, written, oral, and sound sources from international archives to capture the feel and logic of a historical period or situation.

Ben-Ghiat explores how people act in contexts of crisis and oppression, from living under dictatorship and colonial rule to survival in wartime and in contexts of migration. Fascist Modernities (2000), La cultura fascista (2000), and her current book project, Prisoners of War: Italians in French, German, and British Captivity, 1940-1950 (Princeton), reflect this interest, as do her edited and co-edited volumes Italian Colonialism (2005) Gli imperi (2009), and Italian Mobilities (2015).

Ben-Ghiat writes about the power of images to affect us, particularly as they are used to represent and remember war. Images tell their own stories and can sum up the present mood of a culture -- or prefigure a cultural or political shift. This is one premise of her study of Italian combat films, Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema (Indiana, 2015). A Choice Notable Academic Title, it won the Modern Language Association's Scaglione Prize for Best Unpublished Manuscript in Italian Studies.

Ben-Ghiat’s media commentaries draw on her expertise as an historian and cultural critic. She has written for The Atlantic and The Huffington Post and is a frequent contributor to CNN on propaganda, authoritarianism, and race from World War 1 to the 2016 American Presidential election.

In all of her work, Ben-Ghiat brings readers and viewers a sense of the relationship between past and present. She gives the backstory of what is happening today in America and Europe, from developments in war and the military to the popularity of authoritarian personalities to the long shadow of colonialism.

Ben-Ghiat also brings alive the legacies of the past for our present: Her 2014 multi-media series for CNN Opinion, “Legacies of World War I,” looked at innovations from the Great War (such as chemical weapons and advances in aerial surveillance and prosthetics) that still influence us today. And her 2015 program on Italian Fascist imperialism for RAI Storia’s "Il tempo e la storia" addressed the civic importance of coming to terms with the past.

Ben-Ghiat has extensive experience in academic administration. She chaired the NYU Italian Studies Department from 2005 to 2013, guiding it to become one of the top Italian departments in the world. Her expertise in crisis management, department and program building, globalization, and fundraising comes from this and other leadership roles.

Ben-Ghiat 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. She consults for advertising agencies and film production companies and advises universities and cultural institutions in the USA, UK, and Europe.

Follow her on Twitter @ruthbenghiat.