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Studi e ricerche

2021: Italia contemporanea yearbook 2021

The “aquiline race”. The Etruscans between Fascist racism, Nazi racism and the Catholic Church

  • Andrea Avalli
4 October 2022


This article aims to demonstrate that the debate about the origin of the Etruscans can help identify the scientific and ideological inspiration behind Fascist racist theories and explain their relationship with the Catholic Church and Nazi forms of racism. In particular, I argue that the disagreements about the racial identity of the Etruscan people are exemplary of the distinction between “biological” racism and anti-Christian, non-biological racism. The article thus shows that Alfred Rosenberg’s negative representation of the Etruscans — aimed at denying the racial legitimacy of the Catholic Church — was adopted, in Italy, by anti-Christian Fascist philosophers such as Julius Evola and Giulio Cogni; the “biological” racist group behind the journal La Difesa della Razza, instead, promoted Eugen Fischer’s “Etruscologist” theory of the “aquiline race” to include the Etruscans in Italian racial history and avoid an ideological struggle with the Church.


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