Forgotten Refugees: Decolonization, Displaced Persons, and the Reconstruction of Italy and Europe


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars


Sociology and Anthropology


For residence at the American Academy in Rome during academic year 2010-2011


This project examines processes of reconstruction in post-1945 Europe through a focus on the continent's “displaced persons” crisis. Refugees put into question the symbolic and literal borders of nations and states after war, even as they raised more immediate issues regarding social integration and housing. Employing historical and anthropological methods, the study examines such questions for Italy, which had large populations of both foreign displaced persons and national refugees (i.e. persons from formerly Italian territorial possessions lost with the defeat of fascism). The conceptual and material differentiation of refugees into categories of “foreign” and “national” constituted a key site at which understandings of Italian (and, more broadly, European) identity were renegotiated.