Tuesday, 19 November 2013


                           BLACK                 SOCIAL            HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Racism in Italy has been present throughout the country's history. Under Benito Mussolini's Fascist state and its pact with Adolf Hitler,anti-Semitism spread. In modern times, immigration from other countries has also been met by violent or xenophobic resistance by racist extremists

Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, slavery was widespread in Italy, however it was more hinged on religious than racial grounds. While almost all slaves in Genoa belonged to non-European races, emancipated slaves of colour in Venice or Palermo, in the 13th century, were considered free citizens.

19th century and early 20th century

Lombroso and scientific racism in Italy

Scientific racism was popularized in Italy by criminologist Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso theory of atavism connected white man with civilization and other races with "primitive" or "savage" societies. His theories connecting physiognomy to criminal behaviour explicitly blamed higher homicide rates in southern Italy on the influence of African and Asian blood on its population. In 1871 Lombroso published The White Man and the Man of Color, aimed at showing that the white man was superior in every respect to other races. Lombroso in the work explicitly states his opinion of full white supremacy: "only we whites have achieved the most perfect symmetry in the forms of the body  possess a true musical art  have proclaimed the freedom of the state  have procured the liberty of thought". Lombroso equated the criminal tendencies of the white population to residual "blackness". The ideas of Lombroso about race would spread around Europe at the end of 19th century.

Other scholars of scientific racism

Other Italian anthropologists and sociologists followed the Lombroso path of scientific racism. Alfredo Niceforo followed Lombroso physiognomical approach, but in 1906 published a curious racial theory where both blond pigmentation of hair on one hand and dark skin on the other were considered signs of degeneration, with the Italian race in a positive middle ground Niceforo held these views as late as 1952, claiming that "Negroid and Mongoloid types were more frequent in the lower classes". The anthropologist Ridolfo Livi, in 1907, attempted to show that there were Mongolian facial features correlated with poorer populations. However he maintained that the superiority of the Italian race was proven by its capability to positively assimilate other ethnic components.

Fascist Italy

Antisemitism before 1938

It is debated if Italian Fascism was originally antisemitic. Some Fascists held racist views before the alliance with Nazi Germany, with Giovanni Preziosi being a prime example. Preziosi, for example, published the first Italian edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in 1921. The book however had little impact until the mid-1930s.
It has also been indicated Benito Mussolini had his own, if somewhat different than Nazi, brand of racist views. Mussolini for example was quoted as saying: "the white man has to subdue the black, brown and yellow races."
Mussolini had held the view that a small contingent of Italian Jews had lived in Italy "since the days of the Kings of Rome" (a reference to the Bené Roma) and should "remain undisturbed".There were even some Jews in the National Fascist Party, such as Ettore Ovazza who in 1935 founded the Jewish Fascist paper La Nostra Bandiera. Mussolini once declared "Anti-Semitism does not exist in Italy... Italians of Jewish birth have shown themselves good citizens and they fought bravely in [World War I]."
Despite the Fascist regime, up to the first half of 1930's Italy was seen as a safe haven by some Jewish refugees, hosting up to 11,000 persecuted Jews, including 2806 German ones. However as early as 1934 there have been removals of Jewish personnel from institutions and state organizations. 1934 also saw press campaigns against anti-fascist Jews, equating them with Zionists. Between 1936 and 1938 Fascist regime-endorsed antisemitic propaganda was mounting in the press and even in graffiti. Conversely, scholars of eugenetics, statistics, anthropology and demographics began to outline racist theories.

Racial laws

The Second Italo-Ethiopian War led, in 1937, to the first Fascist laws promoting explicit racial discrimination. These were the laws against madamato - that is, the concubinage between Italians and African women in occupied territories.[7][16] The penalty for madamato was from 1 to 5 years of prison.[16] Remarkably, one of the justifications of the laws was that such relationships were abusing the women. In the occupied Eritrea women in fact took marriage by the traditional custom of dämòz which was not legally recognized by the Italian state, thus relieving the husband from any legal obligation towards the woman. However, at the same time, a campaign against the putative dangers of miscegenation started in Italy. The Church endorsed the laws, stating that the «hybrid unions» had to be forbidden because of «the wise hygienic and socially moral reasons intended by the State»: the «inconvenience of a marriage between a White and a Negro», plus the «increasing moral deficiencies in the character of the children».
In the late 1930s Benito Mussolini became a major ally of Nazi Germany, culminating in the Pact of Steel. The influence of Nazi ideology on Italian Fascism appeared in a February 16, 1938 press release by Mussolini in which some restrictions on Jewish people were suggested. An antisemitic press campaign intensified, with Jews blamed for high food prices and unemployment. The Fascist regime turned officially racist with the Manifesto of Race, originally published as Il fascismo e i problemi della razza ("Fascism and the problems of race"), July 14, 1938 in Il Giornale d’Italia. The Manifesto was then reprinted in August in the first issue of the scientific racist magazine La Difesa della Razza ("The Defense of Race"), endorsed by Mussolini and at the direction of Telesio Interlandi.[18] In August 5, 1938 Mussolini issued another press release, this time acknowledging that restrictions on Jews were going to be enacted. The release noted that "segregating does not mean persecuting", but persecution had in fact begun.
The antisemitic metamorphosis of Fascism culminated in the racial laws of September 18, 1938. Although they did not directly threaten Jewish lives, the laws excluded Jews from public education, the military and government, and made it practically impossible for them to pursue most economic activities. Jews could not hire non-Jews. Marriages of Jews to non-Jews were also prohibited.
Fascist racism also impacted French, German and Slavic minorities, most notably with attempts to fully Italianize the Balkans' territories that were annexed after World War I.

Julius Evola

Julius Evola was an intellectual of war and post-war period and probably the main Italian theoretician of racism of XX century.[20] Evola published two systematic works on racism: 1937 The Blood Myth and 1941 Synthesis of the Doctrine of the Race. Evola also discussed the subject on a substantial number of articles on several Italian journals and magazines. Evola also introduced the Giovanni Preziosi 1937 edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, where he writes:

Whether or not the controversial Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion are false or authentic does not affect the symptomatic value of the document in question, that is, the fact, that many of the things that have occurred in modern times, having taken place after their publication, effectively agree with the plans assumed in that document, perhaps more than a superficial observer might believe.
While The Blood Myth aimed, at least in principle, at being an impartial review of the history and latest developments of racism theories in Europe, Synthesis of the Doctrine of the Race introduced the concept of spiritual racism This concept met the approval of Benito Mussolini, who was looking for a theoretical justification of racism different from the biological racism that was mainstream in Nazi Germany.[21] Evola's racism was based on several underlying themes of Evola thought: anti Darwinism; the concept of history as regressive, positioning the apex of civilization at the beginning of history; antimaterialism and antireductionism.[21] For Evola, race exists on three levels: "body race", "soul race", "spiritual race", with the concept pinned to a transcendent foundation. Evola writes: "Race and caste exist in the spirit before manifesting themselves in the earthly existence. The difference comes from the top, what refers to it on earth is only a reflection, a symbol." For this reason, Evola criticized explicitly the Nazi racist view, deeming them "trivial darwinism" or "divinified biologism". The Jewish race, for Evola, was not meant to be discriminated for mere biological reasons: Jewishness was essentially instead a "race of the soul, an unmistakable and hereditary style of action and attitude to life."  Evola spiritual racism was therefore more powerful than biological racism, since it recognized also Jewishness as a spiritual and cultural component tainting what Evola recognized as the Aryan race. Despite this peculiar theoretical elaboration, Evola overall description of Jewishness was not particularly different from the racist stereotype that was mainstream in the period.

Second World War

During the Second World War, Italians engaged in actions of ethnic cleansing. In summer and autumn of 1942, as many as 65,000 Italian soldiers destroyed several areas of occupied Slovenia, killing or arresting residents and leaving many areas almost depopulated. Between 1941 and the Grand Council's deposing of Benito Mussolini on July 25, 1943, 25,000 Slovenians (roughly 8% of the population in the Ljubljana area) were put in Italian detention camps.
During this period, Italian authorities complied with German requests to deport Jews in the occupied Balkans and French territories, to close Italian borders to all refugees and to expel illegal Jewish immigrants.
A pivotal event of the Jewish persecution in Italy during the war is the so-called razzia, or roundup of October 1943 in Rome. On the morning of October 16, 1943, German troops arrested as many as 1259 Jews for deportation to concentration camps. Notably, while Pope Pius XII did not object to the relocation, members of the lower clergy did assist thousands of Jews in escaping deportation.

21st century

Anti-immigration campaign poster by Italian right-wing populist party Lega Nord in 2008. Depicting a Native American, it reads - They suffered from immigration. Now they live in reservations. Think about it.
There has been concern that racism and xenophobia in Italy has increased in the 21st century. In particular, actions by the Lega Nord have been criticised as xenophobic or racist by several sources. Italians protested the murder of Burkina Faso native Abdul Salam Guibre and racism in Italy on 20 September 2008. L'Osservatore Romano, the semi-official newspaper for the Holy See, indicated racism played an important role in the riot in Rosarno. According to a Eurobarometer study, Italians had the third lowest level of "comfort with person of Roma origin as neighbour" like Austrians and Czechs.
Contemporary Italian football fans, of lower-league and top-flight teams, have been noted by foreign media for racist actions.[34]
In 2013 after the nomination of Cécile Kyenge, an African Italian woman, as Minister of Integration in the government of Enrico Letta, she was the subject of several racial slurs by local and national politicians. One was by Roberto Calderoli, a prominent figure of the anti-immigration and populist party Lega Nord, who said that whenever he saw Minister Kyenge, who is an African Italian, an orangutan came to his mind. After a few days, during a speech by Cècile Kyenge at a meeting of the Democratic Party, some members of the far-right and neo-fascist New Force threw a clump of bananas at the minister.