Peter Levins: Fascism’s Adriatic Empire

Fascism’s Adriatic Empire: City Politics and Architectural Production in Interwar Croatia

This project investigates the relationship between modern architecture and the articulation of ethnic and national identity in Interwar Croatia, 1918–1943. In the contested borderlands along the Balkans’ Adriatic coast, competing Italian and Slavic nationalist movements sought control over local urban environments to legitimize territorial claims on the basis of culture. Through a careful analysis of municipal building projects in Rijeka and Zadar, the negotiation of architectural practice is traced between local architects and politicians in the Adriatic borderlands and their respective national governments. The entire generation of local architects who began their careers in the intellectual and professional networks of Austria-Hungary reoriented their practices to the new political and professional environment under Fascism, collaborating in the modernization projects that would come to define the interwar Adriatic. In making the otherwise discrete sites of state-building through municipal architecture relational, a new way of looking at the nationalist project under Fascism and its limitations is revealed.

Peter Levins

Peter Levins is a doctoral candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at Brown University. He studies modern architecture in Southern, Central, and Southeastern Europe, with a particular focus on the cultural politics of design under Fascism in the contested Adriatic territories. He is currently writing his dissertation, “Fascism’s Adriatic Empire: City Politics and Architectural Production in Interwar Croatia.” He received his B.S. (Honors) in Architectural History and professional B.Arch concurrently from Cornell University. He is currently conducting research in Rijeka and Zadar, as the 2017–18 Fulbright Research Fellow to Croatia.


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