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Otterbein Associate Professor Green studies Italian political theorist to better understand marginalized groups

Otterbein Associate Professor Green studies Italian political theorist to better understand marginalized groups

Associate Professor Marcus E. Green, a world renowned scholar on Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci, is putting the finishing touches on his second book about Gramsci.

Green, who specializes in political theory and American politics in the Department of History and Political Science at Otterbein, is internationally recognized for his work on Gramsci. His research has been translated into Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Portuguese. He has published widely-cited journal articles, as well as a book of essays entitled Rethinking Gramsci, which have profoundly changed the way scholars interpret Gramsci’s writings. Green is currently working on a second book that examines Gramsci’s concept of subaltern social groups, spending last semester on sabbatical writing the final chapters of the manuscript titled, Gramsci and Subalternity: From Philology to Politics.

“The book provides an explication of Gramsci’s concept of subalternity in order to bring into focus the ways in which socio-political subordination is constituted through domination and marginalization in their various forms,” Green said.

Gramsci was a Marxist theorist and politician, who was a founding member and one-time leader of the Communist Party of Italy. He was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime. While in prison he wrote 33 notebooks of nearly 3,000 pages on politics, culture and history. His Prison Notebooks were published after WWII and are considered a highly original contribution to 20th century political theory. He died in 1937, a few days after his release from prison.

“After the fall of fascism in Italy, Gramsci’s prison letters were first published in Italy and they became national best sellers,” Green said. “He was considered a martyr, somebody fighting against the Fascist government in Italy. Some have compared him to the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.”

Green started work on the manuscript as a visiting scholar of Italian Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2012 and 2013. In Sept. 2014, Green was one of eight scholars from around the world selected to conduct seminars at the Gramsci Summer Institute in Ghilarza, Sardegne, Italy, on the topic of hegemonic/subaltern. He presented material from the book.

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s there was an explosion of subaltern studies, according to Green. A subaltern is someone with a low ranking in a social, political, or other hierarchy. It can also mean someone who has been marginalized or oppressed.

“Instead of looking at history as written by the victors, how can we view history from the groups that don’t have political power?” Green said. “How is history perceived by them? The book that I’m working on is really to show how this theme is dominant in Gramsci’s thinking and how it can help us rethink politics with respect to subaltern groups—to rethink the terms of inequality and injustice, but also representations of how subordinate groups have been presented in dominant narratives.”

A colleague of Green, Joseph A. Buttigieg, professor of English and co-director of Italian Studies at Notre Dame, has had a chance to read a draft of Green’s new book and feels that it will “constitute a major contribution to political theory and to a variety of other interdisciplinary fields of inquiry.”

“The lasting significance of Mr. Green’s book,” Buttigieg said, “will be its clarification of how different subaltern groups—ethnic and racial minorities, the economically marginalized, the LGBTQIA+ community, the disabled, etc.—should not be understood or approached as if they constituted a single homogeneous entity and that the situation of each one has to be addressed separately with an awareness of its specificity.”

Green, who teaches courses in political theory, inequality and social justice, believes his research will aid in the classroom, allowing him to make greater contributions to his students’ understanding of the theoretical and analytical issues that arise in thinking about inequality and subordination.


Find out more about Otterbein’s Department of History and Political Science.