Diana Garvin

Historian of Fascist Italy and East Africa
Specialist in Food and Politics
Diana Garvin is Assistant Professor of Italian with a focus on Mediterranean Studies at the University of Oregon. Garvin conducted her postdoctoral research at the American Academy in Rome. She received her PhD from Cornell University, and her AB from Harvard University.

Specialist in food and politics

Garvin researches food history to examine how women negotiated politics in Fascist Italy and Italian East Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia). She also studies the history of reproductive health care in Italy from Fascism to Neo-Fascism. Garvin recently received the Fulbright Global Scholar award to support her forthcoming book on the history of coffee culture across three continents in the early twentieth century.


Diana Garvin. Feeding Fascism: The Politics of Women’s Food Work. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021.


Winner of the 2021 Jeanne and Aldo Scaglione Publication Award, Honorable Mention for Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies, Modern Language Association

The Bean in the Machine

In progress: Winner of the 2020-2022 Fulbright Global Scholar Award, 2020 Getty Library Research Grant

Archival research in over 30 museums


Garvin’s historical research has been supported by over 15 international fellowships and awards, with invitations to Italy, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. In Italy, she has worked with over 30 museums, libraries, and archives. Because many of these sites are small, isolated, and difficult to find, they have received few visits from scholars and little academic notice of their holdings. This out-of-the-way element constitutes a methodological thesis: non-traditional sites have proven more likely to hold the everyday ephemera of women’s lives.

How did women negotiate the politics of Italy’s Fascist regime in their daily lives?

How did women negotiate the politics of Italy’s Fascist regime in their daily lives? Diana Garvin’s book, Feeding Fascism: The Politics of Women’s Food Work (University of Toronto Press), tackles this question by investigating a new body of evidence drawn from food and foodways.
Ultimately, this evidence demonstrates how the material conditions of food work both exhibit and alter women’s political resistance and consent.  In taking this distinctive approach to the archive, Garvin’s research attests to the power of the small.
Feeding Fascism provides rich illustrations cookbooks, kitchen utensils, cafeteria plans, and culinary propaganda to connect women’s political beliefs with the places that they lived and worked, and the objects that they owned and borrowed.  These examples of material culture illustrate how both women and the Italian state attempted to control food in its many manifestations – cooking, feeding, and eating – to assert and negotiate power.

Building on the distinctive method and approach of Feeding Fascism, Garvin is currently researching her second book, The Bean in the Machine: The Global History of Italian Coffee.  Here she investigates the history of coffee culture across metropole, work site, and colony from industrialisation through the economic boom.