Liberation by Emigration: Italian Communists, the Cold War, and West-East Migration from Venezia Giulia, 1945-1949


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




In the years after World War II, several thousand Italians from the Italo-Yugoslav borderlands emigrated eastward across the emerging Iron Curtain, hoping to start new and better lives in communist Yugoslavia. This dissertation explores what these migrants hoped communism would be and how the experiences of everyday life under the preceding fascist dictatorship shaped these hopes. It suggests that these Italians envisioned communist society as one purged of certain social categories—shopkeepers, foremen, and piecework clerks—who had become known as quintessential fascists due to the way fascism interwove itself with local power. Marxist doctrine played a relatively minor role in shaping their expectations. Despite being rather mundane in its motivations, this migration was misconstrued as subversive, catalyzing Cold War divisions. Ultimately, the project offers a new, bottom-up approach to early Cold War history, exploring how ordinary people understood, navigated, and shaped this critical period.