Antifascism and the Café Culture: A Panel on the Modern Spaces & Substances of Resistance

Antifascism and the Café Culture:  A Panel on the Modern Spaces & Substances of Resistance

This panel discussion investigates the role of the café and other spaces of sociability in fostering resistance against fascism. Panelists’ research explores how the urban spaces and the substances consumed therein can either bring people together to foment resistance in the fascist moment or how these spaces can fall short. This examination of spaces past can help us strategize on how the contemporary café culture may or may not be well positioned to oppose fascism today.


Moderator—Kristin Plys (University of Toronto): Café culture of the Global South, 20th c. political movements

Sean Lovitt (University of Delaware): Cafe culture and anarchist movements in 1960s NYC

Mareen Heying (University of Hagen): Gender, politics, and pub culture in late 19th—early 20th century Germany

W. Scott Haine (University of Maryland): Viennese cafe culture during the Anschluss


While each of the panelists’ research focuses on different places, times, and even substances consumed, together they provide a broad picture of historical linkages between the café culture and antifascist movements. In assessing the successes and failures of the café culture in opposing fascism in different places and times, this work together helps us better strategize on how to organize antifascist movements in the present day. This conversation will continue through a special issue of Gastronomica on antifascism and the café culture.

This event is co-sponsored by the Alcohol and Drugs History Society (an AHA affiliate at and the Culinaria Research Centre at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus (

Please register at to receive the Zoom link for this event.


Kristin Plys is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto specializing in histories of café culture in the Global South with a particular focus on South Asia. Her first book, Brewing Resistance: Indian Coffee House and the Emergency in Postcolonial India (Cambridge, 2020) is a systematic historical analysis of the resistance against India’s Emergency (1975-7) as seen through the café culture of 1970s New Delhi.

Sean Lovitt is an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware. His 2020 dissertation, “Mimeo Insurrection,” explores literary responses to the 1960s “long, hot summers” of riots. Currently, he is developing a research project on communes, cafes, and other alternative spaces created by social movements. This spring, he is teaching classes on mutual aid and climate change. 

Mareen Heying is a Research Assistant in History of European Modernity at the FernUniversität (Distance University) in Hagen. In 2017 she received her PhD from the University of Bochum and the University of Bologna for her dissertation on sex workers rights movements in Germany and Italy, 1980-2001. She is currently working on a postdoc project on alcohol consumption habits and drinking spaces of the German working class from the middle of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. She has also conducted research on the (communist) resistance to national socialism. Photo credit: Melanie Longerich.

W. Scott Haine’s extensive work includes histories of French cafes at the University of Wisconsin, editorship of and panel assembly for the Alcohol and Drugs History Society & its journal, and several publications, including a forthcoming volume on the “global reach” of alcohol’s history. Also teaching at the University of Maryland University College, he is exploring the long durée histories of cafes and their critical role in defining social classes, urban and semi-urban spaces, and facilitating the spread of communications technologies from the newspaper to the internet.


Date and Time: -
Location: Virtual Panel