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Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission


Italian Internment during World War II and the Limits of Racism in America

Event details
Calendar   Speaking Engagements
Location Zoom
Date Wed, Mar 3, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Duration   1h

Even before the United States and Italy went to war, various fascist and anti-fascist efforts impacted Italian Americans. During the war over a half a million Italian citizens living in the US (not American citizens) had to register as enemy aliens, thousands were forced to resettle, and a small number were interned. In the same era Italian soldiers and merchant marines were imprisoned throughout the United States. Well before the war with Italy would end, the US government lifted restrictions on Italian citizens in this country and, later still, the status of many Italian POWs also changed.

The differing ways Italians and Italian Americans were treated in the US were not only influenced by political concerns but also by practices of xenophobia and racism, a point made especially clear in comparison to the experiences of Japanese Americans. And yet, better understanding the multiple realities of Italians in the US in this era helps complicate our sense of how race and ethnicity shapes experiences in wartime and in peace.

Dr. Laura Ruberto, Humanities professor at Berkeley City College, will reflect on how political pressure, cultural visibility, and an emerging position of whiteness helped build public acceptance of this immigrant community.

Register here.

This lecture is part of the 2020-21 Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) and National Endowment for the Humanities Colloquium entitled, “Internment & Resistance: Confronting Mass Detention and Dehumanization,” and is presented in partnership with the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at Queens College-CUNY and the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center, Cincinnati.

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