Mussolini’s Children uses the lens of state-mandated youth culture to analyze the evolution of official racism in Fascist Italy. Between 1922 and 1940, educational institutions designed to mold the minds and bodies of Italy’s children between the ages of five and eleven undertook a mission to rejuvenate the Italian race and create a second Roman Empire. This project depended on the twin beliefs that the Italian population did indeed constitute a distinct race and that certain aspects of its moral and physical makeup could be influenced during childhood.
Eden K. McLean assembles evidence from state policies, elementary textbooks, pedagogical journals, and other educational materials to illustrate the contours of a Fascist racial ideology as it evolved over eighteen years. Her work explains how the most infamous period of Fascist racism, which began in the summer of 1938 with the publication of the “Manifesto of Race,” played a critical part in a more general and long-term Fascist racial program.