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Title: Communal myths and silenced memories : the unremembered experience of Italians in Scotland during World War Two
Author: Ugolini, Wendy
ISNI:       0000 0003 7008 1638
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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The outbreak of war between Italy and Britain in June 1940 had devastating consequences for Italian immigrant families living in Britain, including the internment and relocation of thousands of Italian nationals. Over 400 Italian internees died when the ship deporting them to Canada, the Arandora Star, was torpedoed. This thesis explores the construction of powerful myths and stories about the war amongst the Italian population in Scotland and looks at how the dominance of a singular elite narrative has silenced or denied the memories of different groups within the community. Over time, the central internment/^randora Star narrative has been utilised to create the 'story' of the war and has come to represent what it meant to be a 'good Italian.' This one-dimensional focus on the male experience of internment means that major aspects of Italian Scottish experience - service in the British Forces and the relocation of women and children, essentially the memories of non-internees - have been largely concealed. Commemorative and memorial activity within the community reinforces this tendency to exclude non-internees from wartime representations. Through the oral testimonies of second generation Italians in Edinburgh and access to previously unpublished documents, this thesis challenges existing accounts of the war and examines the tensions between communal myths and individual memory. It considers the ways in which the war is recalled and remembered within the narratives of Italian Scots and explores the impact of the war on the present-day construction of their personal identity. In particular, this thesis shows that, contrary to assertions made within historiography, enlistment in the British Forces does not indicate higher levels of assimilation; rather because of their confusing and contradictory experiences, Italian Scottish veterans often emerged from their military service with a heightened sense of 'Italianness.' By exploring the narratives of women who experienced the anti-Italian riots or were relocated from their homes, this thesis also highlights the long-term emotional and psychological impact of the war which is traditionally overlooked. Overall, this thesis concludes that, contrary to the assertions of leading commentators, the war heightened a sense of 'difference' amongst second generation Italians which pre-dated the outbreak of war. It also highlights the need to address wartime antagonism towards the Italians within the broader context of domestic traditions of anti-alienism and sectarianism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available