Introducing: Dario Fazzi
Dario Fazzi works at the Institute for History as Assistant Professor. Although he's not completely new to the Institute, he recently received a permanent appointment. Below he introduces himself!
I always tell my students that my first name is spelled almost like “Mario,” but with the D instead of the M because my parents clearly did not like videogames enough. In this way, the students can grasp my country of origin – Italy indeed – and are immediately carried into an informal atmosphere that improves the quality of our common learning process. This is precisely what I like the most of being part of Leiden University’s Institute for History, the fact that creating a relaxed and yet generative environment in class is not difficult at all and students tend to appreciate it. It makes our job way easier and gratifying.
As a matter of fact, in spite of having started to work as an Assistant Professor in US History only in August 2021, I am not completely new to the Institute, nor to the Netherlands. I moved to this country ten years ago, when I joined as a postdoc what back then was the Roosevelt Study Center and now is the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (RIAS), in Middelburg. I had just completed my PhD at the University of Bologna, where I specialized in post-1945 transatlantic history, and the prospect of moving to such a prestigious research center, working side by side with outstanding scholars was of course incredibly exciting. All the more so if one considers that all I had to do was to write my first book, which was on former US first lady and US diplomat Eleanor Roosevelt’s involvement in the anti-nuclear campaigns of the early cold war. The reality, then, definitely exceeded my expectations, and that experience helped me to grow both personally and professionally.
When I joined the Institute, last summer, I was about to finalize the research for my second book, which is about a controversial method for the disposal of hazardous chemical waste that was invented in the US, commercialized by Dutch companies, and eventually phased out due to a mounting wave of environmental protests. This project, which has led me to explore the overlaps between social history, political history, oceanography, chemistry, economics, and public policy, has exposed me to the relevance of the seas in the making of our contemporary worlds and has led me to rethink of transatlantic and cross-cultural exchanges through the constant mediation of our planet’s waters. It has been a very interesting intellectual journey into what is nowadays called Blue Humanities, and it has allowed me to combine my previous expertise with new narratives on environmental justice and environmental democracy.
The writing of this manuscript, however, has been quite challenging, mostly due to the fact that I have been doing it during the unfolding of a global pandemic. The Covid outbreak has meant for all of us a completely different approach to our jobs and agendas. Balancing private and professional life, especially as a parent of a five-year-old boy, has not been an easy task. Luckily, the infection has not hit hard any of my family members or close friends, so I have been able to enjoy some of the positive implications of it. In fact, I have been spending several hours playing, running, watching TV, and doing with my son all the stuff that children like to do. This sort of frozen time gave me the unique and irreplaceable opportunity to watch him grow, day after day, and become smart, perfectly bilingual, joyful, and playful as any child should indeed be. Writing after he went to bed became my favorite activity of the day – a few hours of splendid isolation and well-deserved absorption into my own world. Of course, I missed social life, the contacts with my colleagues and friends – and the time to watch a few Netflix series too. But all in all, I managed to stay safe and be productive. Now I would really like to go back to some more in-person engagements, also because I am afraid that soon my son won’t like to spend so much time with me anymore, and rightly so.
PS: PM me for the best tiramisu recipe ever!