Prof. Dr. Sven Reichardt

Global Fascist Networks (1920s - 1950s)

This project takes the three empires of the Axis – Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, and the German Third Reich – in order to examine their interconnections from a global perspective, both from centre to centre and through their imperial peripheries. By focussing on networks of what we call ‘fascist brokers’, we explore the specificity – and originality – of the multipolar connectivity between the centres and peripheries of these imperial structures as they came to challenge a global order dominated by the western imperial powers.

This relational perspective towards fascism will lead to a new conceptual framework, decentring the core countries of fascism and the concepts of ‘Europeanness’ that dominate conventional comparative approaches. The global networks associated with the imperial expansion of fascism include the institutions and micro powers involved in circulation, condensation and implementation that constitute the asymmetrical power relations among the actors. Rather than assuming that the borderland exchanges in the Near and Middle East, eastern Europe or Asian and Pacific regions were imposed from the fascist centres, GloFaNet will focus on borderlands as laboratories for indigenous innovations, creative adaptations and multidirectional flows between periphery and centre. We will analyse the imperial interconnectivity, the fluidity of the processes by which fascist imperial regimes connected with one another and engaged their regional peripheries from the end of World War I to 1945.

For the first time, we are taking the borderlands as meaningful units for geopolitical connectivity with the fascist core empires. This innovative project is dedicated to studying the heretofore scarcely researched patterns of influence and resistence, pressures, challenges and rivalries, competition, selective borrowings, misreadings and wishful thinking in a multipolar web of interactions and socio-political brokerage between fascist centres and peripheries.

Knowledge Practices of Social Movements

Social movements identify and discover new forms of knowledge, they produce knowledge and generate alternative epistemologies. Social movements popularize knowledge and challenge hegemonic structures through subversive “counter-knowledge”. They use and criticize scientific expertise and generate new scientific trends – in short: knowledge is of central importance for the constitution, self-understanding, political agitation and the effects of social movements.

A group of scientists from history, sociology, ethnology, law, media studies and political science at the University of Konstanz deal with questions about forms of knowledge in social movements. Following a successful interdisciplinary workshop in October 2019 we plan to institutionalize a third-party funded research group.

The aim is to understand the creation and formation of movement knowledge, the circulation, communication and dissemination, as well as the effects and reception of mobilized “counter-knowledge”. The understanding of social movements as cultures of knowledge is based on the existence of various cognitive technologies that construct knowledge in multiple ways, produce cultures as forms of knowledge with symbolic-expressive components and challenge dominant knowledge regimes.

Further Information

COMFAS - Call for Papers

Radicalization to Violence: Paramilitarism in Fascism and the Radical Right
Sixth Convention of the International Association for Comparative Fascist Studies (ComFas), Vienna

6-8 October 2023

Paramilitarism is routinely singled out as a main feature of fascist and radical right movements; however, its origins, main features, and impact have not been systematically scrutinized. Against this background, the sixth ComFas Convention aims to bring together researchers from different disciplinary fields, geographical areas, and research traditions and to engage them in a scholarly debate on paramilitarism and radicalization to violence within the field of radical right, fascist, and neo-fascist movements and regimes.

Conference participation is free for COMFAS members (see Membership Policy and application form at For non-members, a participation fee of € 75 applies. Conference participants will be invited to submit revised versions of their papers for publication in an edited volume and in Fascism: Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies.

Political Ecology

Political ecology is, according to Robbins, a field that critically interrogates the nature–society relations, particularly looking at the power relations that intersect and affect the access to natural resources, in order to reveal disparities and injustices in the distribution of costs and benefits.

Against this background, we want to explore the mutual relationships among political, economic and social acting; discourses and imaginaries of the natural environment; and environmental transformations in the 19th and 20th century. By addressing diverse relations that shaped the biophysical environment and ecosystems on a global scale, we intend to connect research projects that address environmental knowledge as a politically contested field in global, imperial and (post) colonial studies.

Invitation for online-participation

Transforming Infrastructure – Cultural Perspectives

Dr. Nikolai Wehrs

Elitenherrschaft im Zeitalter der Massendemokratie - die Rolle des Civil Service in der politischen Kultur Großbritanniens im 20.Jahrhundert

Das Projekt untersucht die Rolle des britischen Home Civil Service für die politische Kultur in Großbritannien im Laufe des 20. Jahrhunderts und fragt anhand dessen nach dem Wandel und der Kontinuität von Einflussnahme professionalisierter Verwaltungseliten auf politische Willensbildungs- und Entscheidungsprozesse unter den Bedingungen der seit dem Ersten Weltkrieg zunehmend egalitär und partizipativ organisierten westlich-liberalen Demokratien. Dabei fokussiert sich die Untersuchung innerhalb des Civil Service auf die Administrative Grades, d.i. die höhere Ministerialbürokratie an der Spitze der Departments der britischen Regierung ("Whitehall").

Als permanenter Verwaltungsdienst sind der Civil Service und seine "unelected officials" formal zu parteipolitischer Neutralität verpflichtet und haben sich auf eine strikt sachneutrale Beratung der jeweils amtierenden Regierung ("the government of the day") zu beschränken. Tatsächlich jedoch wird dem Civil Service traditionell ein sehr hoher Einfluss auf das politische Handeln der Regierungen nachgesagt. Schließlich haben seine langjährigen Spitzenbeamten gegenüber ihren häufig wechselnden Ministern unweigerlich einen meist uneinholbaren Erfahrungsvorsprung. Das Projekt untersucht die Formen und die Auswirkungen des politischen Einflusses des Civil Service. Darüberhinaus analysiert es die politische Rolle der Ministerialbürokratie im Kontext des korporativen Selbstverständnisses des Civil Service. Bis in das späte 20. Jahrhundert prägte den Civil Service ein spezifisches Standesbewusstsein, das sowohl in einer bildungselitäre Rekrutierungspraxis als auch in einer besonderen Nahebeziehung zur britischen Krone wurzelte. Zugleich sind die elitäre Sozialstruktur und die politische Rolle des Civil Service in Großbritannien immer wieder Gegenstand öffentlicher Kontroversen gewesen. Forderungen nach einer Reform des Civil Service beschäftigen Premierminister von Churchill bis Blair ebenso wie Literaten (C.P. Snow) und TV-Satiriker ("Yes Minister"). Mit der Untersuchung dieser öffentlichen Debatten fragt das Projekt schließlich auch nach Kontinuität und Wandel im Verständnis von Staatlichkeit und "government" im Zeitalter der Massendemokratie.