Mark I. Choate   


Between 1880 and 1915, thirteen million Italians left their homeland, launching the largest recorded migration from any country in world history. As the young Italian state struggled to adapt to the exodus, and establish an international reputation, it pioneered the establishment of a "global nation"— a national community without borders, cemented by ties of culture, religion, ethnicity, and economics.

In this wide-ranging work, Mark Choate examines Italian migration from the perspectives of Italy. What would be the effects of mass emigration upon the newly united nation? How should the state intervene? Could Italy build lasting ties with its emigrant “colonies” in New York, Boston, Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, San Francisco, and elsewhere? Officials established a variety of programs to build networks among Italian communities worldwide. They fostered an Italian identity through schools, athletic groups, the Dante Alighieri Society, the Italian Geographic Society, the Catholic Church, Chambers of Commerce, and special banks to handle emigrant remittances. Each "Little Italy" could be part of a "Greater Italy." But projects aimed at binding Italians together and encouraging return migration also raised intense debates over priorities and the emigrants’ best interests. The benefits of economic development clashed with the aims of Italian nationalism and colonialism; making Italy Abroad directly shaped Italy at home.

In its probing discussion of transnational identities and international politics, this fascinating book not only narrates the grand story of Italian emigration but also provides important background to immigration debates that continue to this day.

Emigrant Nation: The Making of Italy Abroad
Winner of the Council for European Studies
Book Award, 2009-2010
Winner of the Howard R. Marraro Prize, American Catholic History Society, 2009

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