Carl Ipsen

Professor, Department of History

Director, IU Food Institute

Adjunct, Department of Geography

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I began my academic life as a historian of science interested in the social sciences and in particular demography. My dissertation work on population policy in Fascist Italy turned me into more of an historian of social policy and social problems. My second book on children’s issues in c.1900 Italy (abandonment, labor, delinquency, emigration) continues more or less in that vein. I have also done some work on emigration and ideas about emigration in that same period. My latest book (May 2016) is on the history of smoking in Italy. My current project is a study of the history of olive oil in southern Italy from the eighteenth century to the present day. 

My teaching has focused on nineteenth- and twentieth- century Europe and Italy (including specific courses on the mafia and fascism), though I have also looked at the very long-term question of Europe’s place in the world and taught several times a course on world history since 1945. In the last few years I have also taught “Edible Education 101," my version of a course sponsored by the Edible Schoolyard Project at UC Berkeley. Starting in Summer 2019 I will be teaching a short course at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy.

In terms of administration, I was the director of the Collins Living Learning Center 2011-18 and of the IU Food Project and Institute since 2015.

Beyond the academy, I have worked as a consultant on the issues of contemporary child immigration and integration in Italy (an EU project) and on smoking in post-World War II Italy (for a law firm). I grew up in Berkeley and have spent a number of years in Italy, mostly Rome, on various research trips and as a fellow of the American Academy in Rome. 

Honors and Awards

  • Indiana University President's Arts & Humanities Initiative Award
  • American Academy in Rome Fellow
  • American Philosophical Society Research Grant
  • American Historical Association Marraro Prize for the best book in Italian History
  • Fulbright Grant

Research Interests

  • Italy: fascism, population, children, smoking, food


  • B.A. at University of California, Berkeley, 1985
  • M.A. at University of California, Berkeley, 1987
  • M.A. at University of California, Berkeley, 1991
  • Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley, 1992

Courses Taught

  • The Mafia and other Italian Mysteries
  • Edible Education
  • A History of Fascism
  • History of the World since 1945
  • The Cultures of Modern Europe
  • Modern Italy
  • A Global History of Europe
  • Nineteenth-Century Europe



  • Fumo: Italy’s Love Affair with the Cigarette. Stanford, Stanford U.P., 2016 [translated in Italian as: Fumo: La storia d'amore tra gli italiani e la sigaretta. Florence: Le Monnier, 2019].
  • Italy in the Age of Pinocchio. Children and Danger in the Liberal Era. New York: Palgrave, 2006.
  • Dictating Demography: The Problem of Population in Fascist Italy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996. [translated in Italian as: Demografia totalitaria: Il problema della popolazione nell’Italia fascista. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1997.]


  • "The Olive Oil C
  • “A Greater Italy: The Italianization of Argentina,” in Anthony Grafton and Marc Rodriguez, eds., Migration in History, (Rochester, NY: The University of Rochester Press, 2006
  • “Under the Stats of Fascism: The Italian Population Projections of 1929-31.” Popolazione e storia (1/2002): 95-111. [Reprinted in Jochen Fleisccacker, Henk A,. De Gans and Thomas K. Burch, eds., Population Projections and Politics. Critical and Historical Essays on Early Twentieth Century Population Forecasting. Amsterdam, NETH.: Rozenberg, 2003.]
  • “Legal Infanticide: Foundling Mortality and its Measurement in Turn-of-the-Century Italy with Special Reference to the Casa dell‚Annunziata of Naples.” Popolazione e storia (numero unico/2000): 123-49.