This dissertation analyzes how Italian Catholic missionaries understood Italian migrants' relationship to both an abstract Italian nation and a concrete Italian nation-state, and how those understandings affected the spiritual and charitable work that missionaries undertook with Italian migrants. Massive emigration after Italian unification in 1861 embarrassed the new state, and it attempted, with limited success, to convince Italians that they were part of an Italian national community, even abroad. Although the new state and the Catholic Church remained officially estranged until the 1929 Lateran Accords, Italian missionaries employed their own version of Italian nation-building as a key strategy for maintaining migrants' Catholicism abroad. Missionaries, including Scalabrinians, Salesians, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and the missionaries of the Opera Bonomelli, followed Italian migrants around the world and created Italian Catholic communities and institutions. Missionaries frequently collaborated with the Italian state both before and after the Lateran Accords, and though missionaries always insisted on their independence from the Italian state, their relationship with the state was complex and often contested under both the Liberal (1861-1922) and Fascist (1922-1943) governments. By the mid-twentieth century, Italian missionaries' work evolved into a universal migrant ministry rather that one focused exclusively on Italians. Missionaries began to argue for a more expansive notion of the Italian national community and greater political and social inclusion for the migrants who arrived in Italy in the late twentieth century. This project examines the complex intertwining of religion and nation-state in a country known for its weak state, strong Church, and high levels of mobility.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2014. Major: History. Advisors: Donna Gabaccia and Patricia Lorcin. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 267 pages.
Venditto, Elizabeth O'Ressa.
Nation-building and Catholic assistance to migrants in Italy's transition from land of emigration to immigration, 1861-1990.
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