I was born in Hyde Park, Chicago after World War II. My paternal grandfather, who came from Sicily, was a musician and symphony band conductor, and he, along with my father and his three brothers, were active in city reform politics. My mother, Jill Oppenheim, came from New York City , the daughter of a well-to-do German Jewish family long resident in the U.S.. She and my father met at the University of Chicago. The family, growing to seven children, moved back and forth across the United States. My first trip to Europe was in 1960 when my father was appointed as a delegate to UNESCO and he took me with him to Paris. My first long residence abroad was in 1963 when my father moved the family to Italy. I eventually married an Italian, Leonardo Paggi, and have a daughter, Livia. I have been a resident of New York City since 1969 interrupted by long stays in Italy, France, and Germany.

My schooling was mainly in the United States. After attending Princeton High School and Miss Barry's American School in Florence Italy, I went to Smith College where I graduated magna cum laude in 1968. After a year at the University of Florence on a Fulbright Fellowship, I pursued my doctoral studies in history at Columbia University. From my involvement in the student anti-war movements in Italy and the U.S., I became interested in studying how force and persuasion or hard and soft power mix differently in liberal and authoritarian systems of rule. My doctoral thesis was on the Italian fascists' after-work organizations, and it was defended with "distinction" in 1976 and won the Shepard Clough dissertation award and Society for Italian Historian Studies prize for best first manuscript. I was able to turn it into a book at the American Academy in Rome where I was a Rome Prize Fellow in 1978. In 1981. it was published as The Culture of Consent: Mass Organization of Leisure in Fascist Italy, (Cambridge University Press, 1981) and subsequently translated into Italian and Japanese.

Before becoming a professor at Columbia University in 1993, I taught at Lehman College of the City of New York (1974-76) and at Rutgers University (1976-1993). As the project director at the Rutgers Center for Analysis in 1991-1993, I directed a study of 'Consumer cultures in historical perspective," the results of which were published in The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective (University of California Press, 1996). In the time that my daughter was very young and being raised between New York City and Civitella della Chiana , a tiny Tuscan hill town near Arezzo, I also began to write about the different ways national and family politics shape women's lives. The result was How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy, 1920-1945 (University of California Press, 1992) . This book won the Joan Kelly Prize of the American Historical Association for 1992 and the Premio Acquistoria citation for 1994. I returned to thinking about the Fascist dictatorship in 2000 when I was able to work with the Italian historian, Sergio Luzzatto compiling the Dizionario del Fascismo. The two volumes were brought out by the venerable Turin publishing house Einaudi in 2002-2003. Their 660 entries by 180 scholars from Italy and many other countries signal a new season in the study of Italy under Mussolini's regime.

My book, Irresistible Empire (Harvard University Press, 2005) grew out of my longstanding curiosity about how Europeans have contended with the U.S.'s rising hegemony in the twentieth century. It is the outcome of long periods of research in U.S. and European archives, and was completed with support from a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute. Many parts of the work benefited from being presented to New and Old World audiences, and earlier versions of chapters have appeared in German, French, Italian, and Spanish-language publications.

A member of the founding collective of the Radical History Review, I have served on the board of editors of numerous journals including the Journal of Modern History, Geneses, Contemporary European History, and the Journal of Consumer Culture. From 1997 to 2002, I was the National Chair of the Council for European Studies. In the past several years, I have also taught at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and various other European universities, as well as lecturing in the U.S., Canada, Cuba, and Europe. Currently I also teach at the European Union's graduate faculty, the European University Institute at Fiesole, Italy.


CV in doc format


Prof. Victoria de Grazia
Department of History
Columbia University
New York, New York, 10027
212 932-0602 (fax)
212-854-3667 (tel)
VD19 at Columbia dot edu (e-mail)