Making Refugees, Remaking Italy: Decentering the Italian Postwar

Date and Time: Tuesday, April 12, 2022, 4:30 p.m.
Location: Coor Hall 4403

Drawing on her recent book, The World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy, Pamela Ballinger presents the histories of Italy’s so-called “national refugees”: Italians who arrived on the peninsula from the various possessions in Africa and the Balkans lost by Italy as a result of defeat in World War II. Locating these migrants within the vast population of displaced persons in Europe after 1945, she analyzes the development of legal categories differentiating “national” from “foreign” refugees and of separate regimes of humanitarian assistance for the two populations. Caring for and settling its own refugees served as a key instrument through which the new Italian Republic asserted its sovereignty and reframed citizenship after empire. Looking at this history, Ballinger offers a perspective that decenters more conventional political accounts of the early postwar period.

About the Speaker:

Pamela Ballinger is Professor of History and Fred Cuny Chair in the History of Human Rights at the University of Michigan. She is the author of History in Exile: Memory and Identity at the Borders of the Balkans (Princeton University Press, 2003) and the World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy (Cornell University Press, 2020). Her areas of expertise include human rights, forced migration, refugees, fascism, seaspace, and modern Mediterranean and Balkan history.