Semester

Spring

Date of Graduation

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Type

PhD

College

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Department

History

Committee Chair

Joshua Arthurs

Committee Member

Katherine Aaslestad

Committee Member

Robert Blobaum

Committee Member

Maura Hametz

Committee Member

James Siekmeier

Abstract

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.

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