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    Leaving Egypt: rethinking 1956 through Italian departures

    Viscomi, Joseph (2022) Leaving Egypt: rethinking 1956 through Italian departures. In: Curli, B. (ed.) Italy and the Suez Canal, from the Mid-nineteenth Century to the Cold War: A Mediterranean History. Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 9783030882556. (In Press)

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    Events surrounding the Suez conflict are often portrayed as causally linked to the displacement of Italian and other foreign residents from Egypt. While 1956 was not among the primary causes for the departure of over 40,000 Italian residents from Egypt after the Second World War, the conjunctures to which it points evoke changing geopolitical constellations that challenge and expand our understanding of Mediterranean decolonisation. This chapter argues that ‘uncertainty’ characterised the post-war period for Italian residents in Egypt and reveals multiple continuities and discontinuities often concealed by the conventional periodisation of Mediterranean history. It shows that ‘repatriate’ and ‘refugee’ – categories frequently linked to 1956 -- are part of a longer genealogies of relations between Italy and Egypt. That they acquired meaning as Italians left Egypt reconfigures narratives of modern Mediterranean history. Italian residents belonged to a community whose political structure in Egypt had been erected at the height of fascist imperialism and, after 1946 often looked back to its past to measure its present and speculate on its future. Italian repatriates from Egypt were temporarily housed in refugee camps and converted ‘emigration centers’ in Italian cities, while the state turned towards intergovernmental institutions in effort to internationalise the resolution to departures and arrivals. This chapter draws upon consular, institutional and municipal archives to show how Italian residents between Italy and Egypt encountered and experienced these regional transformations, and how their displacements contoured relations between Italy and Egypt, between Europe and the Middle East, and within a global framework at a pivotal moment. In this way, the eventfulness of 1956 is inscribed within a broader history of Mediterranean imperialism and decolonisation.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available at the link above.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Joseph Viscomi
    Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2021 10:52
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:00


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