'Brown babies' in postwar Europe : the Italian case
Title: 'Brown babies' in postwar Europe : the Italian case
Author: PATRIARCA, Silvana
Series/Number: EUI MWP LS; 2016/03
The paper addresses the issue of the persistence of the idea of race in its close intersection with ideas of national identities in post-1945 Europe, by looking at the racialization of the children of European women and non-white Allied soldiers born on the continent during and right after the war. The case of Italy is closely examined through a variety of sources, some of which have only recently become available. Similarly to what happened in Great Britain and Germany, in Italy these children were considered a "problem" in spite of their small numbers. Because of their origin, but especially because of the color of their skin, they were often portrayed as alien to the (white) nation. Fantasies concerning their disappearance paralleled the elaboration of plans for their transfer to non-European countries. Italy, however, had its own specificity, namely the extensive role of the Catholic Church and more generally of the Catholic world in the "managing" of these children, as well as in shaping the self-representation of post-fascist Italy as a non-racist country. In fact Catholic racial paternalism was pervasive and underwrote the support that prominent Catholic figures gave to Italy's attempt to hold on to the old colonies in the aftermath of the war.
Subject: 'Brown babies'; Postwar Europe; Italy; Catholic church; Fascism
An earlier version of this paper was given as a Max Weber Lecture at the European University Institute on 18 November 2015.
Type of Access: openAccess