Everyday Dictatorship

The word ‘dictatorship’ conventionally conjures an image of a charismatic, dogmatic (male) leader ruling from on high through magnetism, propaganda, and violence, and of a pliant population alternately rallied in fervent support or cowed into submission. Such images belie the crucial reality that dictatorships were experienced subjectively and put into practice by the men, women, and children who lived through them.

Our project explores how individuals encountered the dictatorial state not only in official policies, propaganda, and rituals but also in everyday settings: the market, the factory, the bar, the street, the home. These, we argue, were the crucial sites where dictatorships were made and unmade. We are undertaking a comparative exploration of the lived experience of five dictatorships in four countries bordering the northern Mediterranean: Mussolini’s regime in Italy (1922-1943); Franco’s dictatorship in Spain (1936-1975); Salazar’s rule in Portugal (1933-1974); and the military regimes of Metaxas (1936-1941) and the Colonels (1967-1974) in Greece.