Professor Kevin Passmore
Professor of History
Chair of the History Board of Studies and Deputy Head of History
For a full list of publications see the research tab
- The Political, Social and Gender History of France since 1870
- The Extreme Right in Europe since 1870
- History and Theory
- The Maginot Line and the Allied defeat of 1940
I received my BA degree in Modern European History and my doctorate from the University of Warwick (supervised by the late Roger Magraw and the late Gwynne Lewis). After a period as Lecturer at the University of Manchester, I came to Cardiff University. I am also a qualified psychiatric nurse.
My historical expertise largely covers modern European history. Doubtless my interests reflect the desire of the History Department at Warwick, still pretty new when I was an undergraduate, to break with the national history tradition, and to embrace the movement for the integration of Britain into a 'forward-looking' Europe, without neglecting Europe's imperial past or its relations with the Americas. I also owe to my time at Warwick my interest historiography. That interest was reinforced during my time at Manchester, which was then at the centre of controversies over the 'cultural turn' in historical writing. I have developed all of these interests at Cardiff, in the context of a department that has long been sensitive to the problematic nature of national identity and its entanglement with trans- and non-national contexts, as the work of Gwynn Alf Williams testifies. My latest research, on the relationship between anti-Celtic prejudice in Britain and anti-southern prejudice in France, is very much within the Cardiff tradition.
Honours and awards
- 2014-17: Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (The Maginot Line)
- 2013: British Academy / Leverhulme Trust Personal Research Grant (The Maginot Line)
- 2007: AHRC Research Leave Scheme (The French Right)
- 2007: British Academy Personal Research Grant (The French Right)
- 2007: Scouloudi Foundation Travel Grant (The French Right)
- 2006: Directeur d'études invité (Ecole supériure des hautes études, Paris)
- 2003: British Academy Personal Research Grant (The French Right)
- 2000: Scouloudi Foundation Travel Grant (The French Right)
- 1999: British Academy, Elizabeth Barker Fund (Women and Fascism in Europe)
- 1998: British Academy Conference Grant (The Extreme Right in France)
- 1998: British Academy Personal Research Grant (The French Right)
- 1997: The Wellcome Trust, Travel Grant (Women and Fascism in France)
- 1995: British Academy Personal Research Grant (The French Right)
- 1993 - present, Cardiff University
- 1993 - 1989: Manchester University
- 'Formula fiction and military doctrine', Glasgow University, 6 November, 2017
- What is Fascism? The Battle of Ideas, The BArbican, London, 29 Octobe 2017
- Formula literature and fortification: Double Crime sur la Ligne Maginot', Annual Meeting of the Society for French Historical Studies, Washington DC, 22 April 2017
- 'Defining Fascism', Cornwall Campus, University of Exeter, 22 March 2017
- 'The Maginot Line'. The Institute of Historical Research, London, 27 February 2017
- KEYNOTE: Sciences Po, Paris, 7 December 2016: 'L'histoire de la droite en France, nouvelles approches'
Year Three Undergraduate Modules
HS1848: Fascism & Antifascism in France (30 credits)
France, 1870-1945; France 1945-2011; Gender and Society in France since 1870
HST644: Historical Theory & Methods
HS1741: From Dreyfus to le Pen: France 1898-2012 (30 Credits)
Antoine Godet, 'La symbolique politique et sociale des mouvements fascistes et fascisants en France et en Grande-Bretagne dans les années 1930. Etude comparative', Joint supervision with Yves Denchère and François Humont, doctorat to be submitted at the Université d'Angers, France (2013-)
Joe Starkey, 'Working-class conservatism in interwar France' (2010-)
The Reception of Fascism and National Socialism in France
Scholars have become increasingly suspicious of the idea that the study of fascism requires the prior establishment of a model or definition that supposedly allows categorization of movements and regimes as either fascist or not fascist. Scholars often say that fascism is ‘notoriously hard to define’, but in fact it is no different to any other political ideology in that respect – there are many ways of defining socialism and liberalism too. In fact, unresolved debates about who truly represents true socialism or true liberalism are intrinsic to political debate, and the same applies to fascism. If we academics and activists are nevertheless especially concerned with defining fascism, it is only because it’s an insulting term, and almost nobody wants to be described as one. With terms like socialist and liberal, the stakes are lower.
Rather than try to resolve the impossible question of who the true fascist is, it is more useful to trace the ways that people used or refused the term, and what consequences for whom the use of labels had. Labels do matter. In the case of Italian fascism, Mussolini exiled founding members of his party on the grounds that they were not true fascists. Hitler murdered party members who thought that they were perfectly good National Socialists. Likewise, imposed racial categories, in themselves meaningless, were a matter of life and death for millions.
The categorical method has been especially fruitless in the long-running debate about whether there was a fascist threat in France in the 1930s. In my current research on the reception of Fascism and National Socialism in France, I trace the history of the term as it was used (or not used), in specific contexts. That method necessarily entails tracing the terms across national boundaries, and asking why French movements rejected the term fascism, even though they saw much to admire in Germany and Italy.
'Are Trump and Frage really fascists?, The Guardian, 7 November 2016
'Is Donald Trump a Fascist', Dan Snow's History Hit, November 2016
'Fascism in France in the 1930s', interview with Sean Kennedy, H-France Salon, Volume 6:11, 2014.
'No-one wants to wear the fascist label - even if it fits', Zocalo, 15 March 2017
The Maginot Line in History, Culture and Memory
Project sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust and British Academy
This project is supported by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, 2014-17 and by A British Academy and Leverhulme Trust Personal Research Grant
In the 1930s, the French government built an enormously expensive line of fortifications - the Maginot Line - along its frontier with Germany. Notoriously, in the summer of 1940, a lightening German attack through Belgium outflanked the Maginot Line, and within a few weeks France had been defeated. The fortifications seemed to be an irrelevance, a symbol of military myopia and refusal to look the imperatives of the modern world in the face. However, although the fortifications saw little fighting, they were enormously important strategically, socially and culturally not only in France, but internationally. Consequently, the Maginot Line represents an ideal focus for an interdisciplinary study and it provides a window into French and European history. The project is organised around seven themes: (1). The social, intellectual and cultural context of military strategy (2) fortification as part of a project to 'organise' French society, ensuring the ability of the state to structure the 'formless mass' (3) the significance and consequences of building the defences of the nation in a German-speaking region in which separatist feeling was strong (4) the Maginot line in the transnational context (5) the relationship between aesthetics (e.g. Art deco, Le Corbusier's modernism), military design and strategy (6) the history of everyday military life (7) the Maginot Line in memory.
Full list of publications
‘The Theory and Practice of Conservative Propaganda and Organisation in Britain and France in the Interwar Years’. In Clarisse Berthezène and Jean-Christian Vinel, Postwar Conservatism, A Transnational Investigation: Britain, France, and the United States, 1930-1990, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, 000–000.
Fascism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd wholly revised edition, 2014) (Translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Swedish).
The Right in France from the Third Republic to Vichy (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Fascism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. xiii+163 (Translated into Arabic, Bosnian, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Korean, Kurdish, Russian, Tamil and Turkish).
From Liberalism to Fascism: The Right in a French Province, 1928-1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. xvii + 333 (Runner-up, RHS Gladstone Prize, 1998).
Political Violence in Europe, 1918-1945, edited with Chris Millington (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015)
The 1950s in European Society, Politics and Culture, jointly edited with Heiko Feldner and Claire Gorrara (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholar press, 2011).
Writing History: Theory and Practice, jointly edited with Stephan Berger and Heiko Feldner (London: Arnold, 2003), pp. xvii + 323 (Second edition, London: Bloomsbury, 2010).
Women, Gender and Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945 (Manchester: Manchester University Press and New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, March 2003), pp. xii + 275.
Writing National Histories: Western Europe Since 1800, jointly edited with Stephan Berger and Mark Donovan (London: Routledge, 1999) pp. 304.
Refereed journal articles
‘Writing the history of Fascism and National Socialism transnationally: the Example of France’, Bereginya, 23:4 (2014), pp. 287-304. (In Russian)
‘La droite entre les deux guerres : psychologie des foules, sciences de l’organisation et publicité moderne’, Politix 27:106 (2014), 5-31.
‘L’historiographie du « fascisme » en France’, French Historical Studies 37:3 (Summer 2014), pp. 469-499. Subject of the H-France Salon, vol. 6, issue 11 (2014).
‘The gendered genealogy of political religions theory’, Gender and History, 20:3 (2008), pp. 644-68 Nominated for best article in 25 Years of Gender & History
‘The naming of fascism’, and ‘Generic fascism and the historians’, Erwägen Wissen Ethik, 15:3 (2004), pp. 335-7 and 403-5.
‘Femininity and the right: from Moral Order to Moral Order’, Modern and Contemporary France, 8:1 (February 2000), pp. 55-69.
‘“Planting the tricolor in the citadels of communism”: Women’s social action in the Croix de feu and Parti Social Français’, The Journal of Modern History, 71:4 (December 1999), pp. 814-851.
‘Boy-scouting for grown-ups? Paramilitarism in the Croix de Feu and PSF’, French Historical Studies, 19:2 (Fall, 1995), pp. 527-57.
‘Business, corporatism and the crisis of the French Third Republic: the example of the silk industry in Lyon’, Historical Journal, 38:4 (1995), pp. 959-987.
‘The Croix de Feu: Bonapartism, national-populism or fascism?’ French History, 9:1 (March,1995), pp.93-123. Reprinted in Fascism: Critical Concepts in Political Science, Vol. 4, The Fascist Epoch, edited by Roger Griffin with Matthew Feldman (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 202-228.
‘The French Third Republic: stalemate society or cradle of fascism?’, French History, 7:4 (December, 1993), pp. 417-449.
Contributions to edited books
‘Fascism as a social movement’, in Stefan Berger and Holger Nehring (eds), Social Movements in Global Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp 579-617.
‘Evidence and Objectivity’, in Tracey Loughran (ed), History at University (London: Bloomsbury forthcoming, 2017), pp. 140-153
‘Les tentatives de banalisation de l’extrême-droite dans l’entre-deux-guerres’, in Nadia Afiouni et Nicolas Guillet (dir), Les tentatives de banalisation de l’extrême droite en Europe (Bruxelles: Presses universitaires de Bruxelles) pp. 19-36.
‘Political violence and democracy in Western Europe 1918-1940’, in Chris Millington and Kevin Passmore (eds), Political Violence in Europe, 1918-1945 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015), pp. 1–13
‘History and Historiography’, in Philippe Fontaine and Roger Backhouse (eds), A Historiography of the Modern Social Sciences (Cambridge University Press, 2014), 29-61.
‘Collective psychology, anti-southern prejudice and constitutional reform in interwar France: The Stavisky scandal and the riots of 6 February 1934’, in Sam Kalman and Sean Kennedy (eds), The French Right Between the Wars: Political and Intellectual Movements from Conservatism to Fascism (Berghan, 2014), 25-47
‘Les préjugés antiméridionaux en France et anticeltiques en Grande Bretagne’, in Philippe Vervaecke (ed), À droite de la droite. Les droites radicales en France et en Grande Bretagne au XXe siècle, (Septentrion, 2012), pp. 59-86.
‘The 1950s in the historiography of Europe: Norman Davies and Eric Hobsbawm’, in Heiko Feldner, Claire Gorrara, and Kevin Passmore (eds), The 1950s in European Society, Politics and Culture (Cambridge Scholar Press, 2011), pp. 29-39. ‘History and Social Science since 1945’, in Daniel Woolf and Axel Schneider (eds), The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 5: Historical Writing Since 1945(Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 199-219.
‘Theories of fascism: A view from the perspective of women’s and gender history’, in António Costa Pinto (ed.), Rethinking the Nature of Fascism, (Palgrave, 2009), pp. 119-140.
‘The intellectual origins of fascism’, in RJB Bosworth (ed), The Fascism Handbook (Oxford University Press, February 2009), pp. 11-31.
‘The construction of crisis in interwar France’, in Brian Jenkins (ed), France in the Fascist Era (Berg, 2005), pp. 151-199.
‘History and poststructuralism’, in Stephan Berger, Heiko Feldner and Kevin Passmore (eds), Writing History: Theory and Practice (Arnold, 2003), pp. 118-40.
‘The Republic in crisis: politics, 1914-1945’, in James McMillan (ed.), The Oxford Short History of France, Vol. 7, Modern France: 1880-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 39-71.
‘Europe’, in Kevin Passmore (ed.), Women, Gender and Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945 (Manchester University Press and Rutgers University Press, 2003), pp. 235-68.
‘Introduction’, in Kevin Passmore (ed.), Women, Gender and Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945 (Manchester University Press and Rutgers University Press, 2003), pp. 1-10.
‘Politics’, in Julian Jackson (ed) The Short Oxford History of Europe, Vol. 8: 1900-1945 (Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 77-115 (Translated into Spanish and Polish).
‘Catholicism and nationalism: the Fédération républicaine, 1927-1939’, in Kay Chadwick (ed.), Catholicism, Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century France (Liverpool University Press, 2000), pp. 47-72.
‘The Croix de Feu and fascism: a foreign thesis obstinately maintained’, in Edward J. Arnold (ed.), The Development of the Extreme-Right Wing in France since 1870: From Boulanger to Le Pen, (Macmillan, 2000), pp. 100-118.
‘Historians and the nation-state: Some conclusions’ (with Stefan Berger and Mark Donovan) in Stephan Berger, Mark Donovan and Kevin Passmore (eds), Writing National Histories: Western Europe Since 1800 (Routledge, 1999), pp. 281-304.
‘Class, gender and populism: the Parti Populaire Français in Lyon, 1936-1940’, in Nicholas Atkin and Frank Tallet (eds), The Right in France, 1789-1997 (Tauris Academic Press, 1997), pp. 183-214.
‘Une Contre-mobilisation: la droite et l'extrême droite lyonnaises en 1939’, in Jean Duvallon, Philippe Dujardin and Gérard Sabatier (eds), Le Geste Commémoratif (Sup’Copy/CERIEP, 1994), pp. 445-465.