Patrizia Guarnieri

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy.

Migrants, Exiles and Refugees Fleeing for Political and Racial Reasons

©2019 Author(s) Published by Firenze University Press
e-ISBN: 978-88-6453-872-3 | DOI: 10.36253/978-88-6453-872-3

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy

    Notes on research

    Readers can carry out their own research on the biographical texts and on the data presented and collected in the database. Access is open. It is important to bear in mind the «in progress» nature of the list and of the documentation which will be updated and added to, features which contrast with some archival and data collections whose documentation is fixed in date and size. The information collected makes use of very different types of source material, and, as is always the case, is conditioned by the purposes for which the material was created. Except that here there are some additional problems. Communication was by means of languages foreign to those who sought to emigrate; messages were sent in English or German, rarely in Italian; writers and readers did not always have the full linguistic competence necessary to translate. Furthermore, those who met each other did not always understand one another. Academic titles, school and university careers, and even professional qualifications and professional duties were not, and are not, the same in different countries, and within the same country they also change over time. The content of certain branches of study is also different today, particularly as regards those prevalent or typical during the fascist period in Italy. The wave of intellectuals leaving fascist Italy for abroad occurred some five years after that of the Germans. In a market that was saturated and not well disposed towards foreigners, especially if Italians and Jews, nor to women intellectuals, there were those who, in desperate search of work and unable to return to where they had come from, nominated referees and presented CVs that were not entirely truthful in order to make a good impression. They announced their readiness to take up positions in subjects far removed from their areas of expertise, as well as adapting to less skilled employment. Some were able to retrain and change their profile, from surgeons to psychoanalysts, from historians of philosophy to educationalists, from economists to booksellers, before in some cases becoming Nobel Prize winners. There are then the private testimonies, including diaries sometimes discovered many years later by heirs, written as a means of processing pain, as well as letters written expressly to avoid causing concern to the recipient. There are the things remembered and the things forgotten by those who were children at the time, whose parents took care to avoid recounting what was most troubling. As often happens, differing memories within the same family, stories passed down and re-elaborated, are often at variance with the documents. It is therefore recommended that the data is used with extreme caution. After lengthy discussion, it was decided, despite the ever-present risk of simplification, reductivism and generalisation, to represent some individuals by means of an infographic. The maps of the routes taken by individuals, drawn up by Progettinrete, are only indicative. They are nonetheless a useful instrument for navigating the overall picture, one which in time will become more precise and more complex. Any quantitative evaluation one might wish to consider making should not however detract from the stories of the lives of individuals and families which are all different, unique and unlike any other.

    Among the searchable data we have considered it useful, where possible, to highlight the following:

    • Gender difference, taking into account that women are under-represented compared with their actual presence.
    • The difference between Italians and other nationals by birth, bearing in mind that many changed citizenship. Some foreigners acquired Italian citizenship which was then revoked. American citizenship, for those who emigrated to the US and which required a lengthy waiting process after filing «first papers», then became an obstacle for those who wished to return to Italy.
    • Relatives who emigrated as exiles or refugees, with a link to the individual biographical entry for those who were themselves intellectuals and are no longer alive.
    • Networks, with links to other Lives on the Move.
    • Aid organisations which offered at least initial support, if rarely a lasting solution, and were used less by Italians than Germans.
    • Referees nominated, as distinct from references that were actually given, offer an idea of the reputation and the international contacts of Italian scientists and scholars.
    • Support relationships which we know were used, and which were, above all, family and personal networks, previous professional or academic ones, or those derived from political affiliation.
    • Standard mobility which occurred independently of discrimination or persecution for racial or political reasons, and was typical of academic careers at the time. Where possible we have tried to chart chronologically the places involved, with dates, employment and professional duties.
    • Experience of expulsion and removal for political and racial reasons which marked a distinct break in the life of the individual.
    • Non-standard mobility which included emigration, changes in location abroad, employment found, under whose auspices, and whether it was occasional, fixed term or stable.
    • Return to Italy or to the country of origin for foreigners after the fall of the fascism.
    • Successful or failed reinstatement, looking at the timing and the reasons why reinstatement at the same level and in the same university did or did not take place. Also attitudes in the original workplaces and whether a transfer occurred because of «incompatibility in the workplace».