The Fascist Forest: Mussolini’s Trees and the Ecological Legacy of Fascism


ACLS Fellowship Program


French and Italian


Can a forest be fascist? "The Fascist Forest" explores layers of that question charting the history of the 20,000 pines planted between 1938 and 1939 to spell the word DUX in trees on an Italian hillside. This grand and controversial arboreal inscription — Benito Mussolini’s Latin title — stood intact until August 2017 when a fire incinerated part of it, giving rise to a debate about manipulated landscapes, ecosystem adaptation, and political violence. This study of the forest, its past and recent present, reveals how the dictator’s trees not only serve as a prime example of fascist appropriation of nature, but they also provide an opportunity to reflect on the relationships between environmental justice, historical memory, and our current socio-ecological crisis.