Cover for GABACCIA: Italian Workers of the World: Labor Migration and the Formation of Multiethnic States. Click for larger image

Italian Workers of the World

Labor Migration and the Formation of Multiethnic States

Italians migrants and the complex links between international class formation and nation building

In Italian Workers of the World, a distinguished roster of contributors examines how the reception of immigrants in their new countries shaped their sense of national identity and shaped the multiethnic states where they settled. Argentina and Brazil welcomed Italian migrants as a civilizing influence, and these immigrant workers played an instrumental part in establishing and leading movements committed to labor internationalism. In the United States, by contrast, the American Federation of Labor's hostility to socialism, internationalism, and unskilled laborers fueled distrust and xenophobia that steered Italian immigrants into ethnically mixed unions like radical Industrial Workers of the World. Essays also focus on specific topics ranging from the work of republican Garibaldians in South America to antifascist currents among Italian migrants in France and the United States, and from a 1912 textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, to Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia.

Contributors: Antonio Bechelloni, Fernando J. Devoto, Pietro Rinaldo Fanesi, Donna R. Gabaccia, Mirta Zaida Lobato, Fraser M. Ottanelli, Carina Frid de Silberstein, Michael Miller Topp, Angelo Trento, Nadia Venturini, and Elisabetta Vezzosi


"In this path-breaking collection of essays, editors Donna Gabaccia and Fraser Ottanelli and chapter contributors trace the ideological, political, and cultural courses charted by Italy's migrants. . . . Italian Workers of the World offers profound new ways of thinking about class and ethnic identities, immigrant communities, and the importance of national histories. . . . A remarkable work ."--Labor History

"This stimulating collection suggests new approaches adaptable to several disciplines and provides model essays for the next generation of migration scholars."--American Historical Review

"Marked by a rare coherence and clarity of vision, this elegant collection is a focused attempt to come to grips with some of the thornier issues that have confronted immigration historians in the past decade: how to practice comparative history, how to reconcile historians' emphasis on nation-states with the transnationalism paradigm of social scientists, and how to make race and class meaningful analytical categories rather than tired clichés."--Dorothee Schneider, author of Trade Unions and Community: The German Working Class in New York City, 1870-1900

"An important book located at the intersection of labor migration, workers' internationalism, and nation-building, Italian Workers of the World offers compelling portraits of courageous class-conscious workers and radical exiles negotiating both national and transnational identities. An inspiring model for international collaboration and transnational perspectives on historical practice, the book challenges us to rethink the connections between the building of national labor movements and international class solidarity."--Franca Iacovetta, author of Enemies Within: Italians and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad

Publication of book supported by a grant from the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation


Donna R. Gabaccia is a professor emerita of history at the University of Toronto. Her books include Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective. Fraser M Ottanelli is a professor of history at the University of South Florida. He is the coauthor of Assassins against the Old Order: Italian Anarchist Violence in fin-de-siècle Europe.

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