Skip to main content

Leaving Egypt: Rethinking 1956 Through Italian Departures

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Italy and the Suez Canal, from the Mid-nineteenth Century to the Cold War

Abstract

Events surrounding the Suez conflict are often portrayed as causally linked to the displacement of Italian and other foreign residents from Egypt. While 1956 was not among the primary causes for the departure of over 40,000 Italian residents from Egypt after World War II, the conjunctures to which it points evoke changing geopolitical constellations that challenge and expand our understanding of Mediterranean decolonisation. This chapter argues that ‘uncertainty’ characterised the post-war period for Italian residents in Egypt and reveals multiple continuities and discontinuities often concealed by the conventional periodisation of Mediterranean history. It shows that ‘repatriate’ and ‘refugee’—categories frequently linked to 1956—are part of a longer genealogy of relations between Italy and Egypt. That they acquired meaning as Italians left Egypt reconfigures narratives of modern Mediterranean history. Italian residents belonged to a community whose political structure in Egypt had been erected at the height of fascist imperialism, and after 1946 often looked back to its past to measure its present and speculate on its future. Italian repatriates from Egypt were temporarily housed in refugee camps and converted ‘emigration centres’ in Italian cities, while the state turned towards intergovernmental institutions in an effort to internationalise the resolution to departures and arrivals. This chapter draws upon consular, institutional, and municipal archives to show how Italian residents between Italy and Egypt encountered and experienced these regional transformations, and how their displacements contoured relations between Italy and Egypt, between Europe and the Middle East, and within a global framework at a pivotal moment. In this way, the eventfulness of 1956 is inscribed within a broader history of Mediterranean imperialism and decolonisation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Notes

  1. 1.

    Telegramma n.39, ACGA, ‘Vittorio Emmanuele di Savoia.’

  2. 2.

    ‘Dannoso disinteresse del Governo per gli italiani d’Egitto,’ il Giornale della Sera, 26 July 1946.

  3. 3.

    Viscomi (2019, 2020).

  4. 4.

    Janelli to PCM, 21 November 1953, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1952, b.870.

  5. 5.

    Clot-Bey (1840), Iacovella (1994), Zanier (1985), Cuno and Reimer (1997).

  6. 6.

    ‘Pretesa propaganda italiana in Egitto’ ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1931-45, b.16; Grange (1994, 171).

  7. 7.

    Balboni (1906).

  8. 8.

    Khuri-Makdisi (2010).

  9. 9.

    Monroe (1938), Martelli (1938).

  10. 10.

    ‘Notizie sulla collettività italiana d’Egitto,’ 21 December 1944, ACS, PCM 1944-47, 15-3/11222.

  11. 11.

    ‘Situazione politica interna,’ 22 February 1946, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1946-50, b.1.

  12. 12.

    Memoire June 1944, SFA E2001-02#1000/111 BD:7; ‘Interessi italiani in Egitto,’ 1944, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1931-45, b.33.

  13. 13.

    Memorandum 30 November 1943 (Brindisi) and 12 February 1944 (Salerno), ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1931-45, b.33.

  14. 14.

    Rappresentanza italiana in Egitto to MAE, 4 September 1946, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1946-50, b.2; Pizzigallo (2008, 13-14).

  15. 15.

    ‘Notizie sulla collettività italiana d’Egitto,’ 21 December 1944, ACS, PCM 1944-47, 15-3/11222.

  16. 16.

    Seton-Watson (1980).

  17. 17.

    ‘Situazione collettività italiane in Egitto,’ 1944, ACS, CRI servizi affari internazionali, b.144; Caccia Dominioni (1966, 269).

  18. 18.

    Cuppari Annibale, 2 February 1944, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1931-45, b.33.

  19. 19.

    Appunto 28 July 1944 and Appunto 23 June 1944, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1931-45, b.33.

  20. 20.

    ‘Interessi italiani in Egitto,’ 1944, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1931-45, b.33.

  21. 21.

    Prunas to Bounous, 17 February 1944, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1931-45, b.33.

  22. 22.

    Basso to de Astis, 6 November 1946, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1946-50, b.2.

  23. 23.

    Carbone to Bonomi, 1 June 1947, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1946-50, b.9.

  24. 24.

    Zoppi to Fracassi, 9 December 1948, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1946-50, b.7.

  25. 25.

    Raniero Giani, “Declino a Porto Said della collettività italiana,” Italiani nel Mondo, 25 January 1951; G.P.d.F “Il passato e il presente degli italiani in Egitto,” Italiani nel Mondo, 25 February 1951.

  26. 26.

    Con.Gen.d’Italia London to MAE, 3 December 1946, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1946-50, b.1.

  27. 27.

    ‘I nostri lavoratori e le possibilità d’emigrazione,’ Il Mattino della Domenica, 7 July 1946; ‘L’emigrazione nel Venezuela è aperta agli Italiani,’ Il Mattino della Domenica, 14 July 1946.

  28. 28.

    Tarchiani to De Gasperi, 9 November 1951, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1952, b.870.

  29. 29.

    Fracassi to MAE, 23 April 1948, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1951, b.703; Tignor 1987, 488.

  30. 30.

    Appunto per DGAP, 25 May 1951 and ‘visita in Italia Ministro Commercio Egiziano,’ 15 May 1951, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1951, b.698.

  31. 31.

    Janelli to MAE, 29 November 1951, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1952, b.787. Consiglio (1958), Brogi (2004), (2006).

  32. 32.

    Tignor (1987, 492-493), Reynolds (2012), Kerboeuf (2005).

  33. 33.

    Ferrero to MAE 6 June 1952 and 8 August 1952, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1952, b.788.

  34. 34.

    Appunto 19 September 1952, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1952, b.788; ACS MI PS H2 1952 B220.

  35. 35.

    Appunto 22 February 1952, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1952, b.789.

  36. 36.

    Ferrero to MAE, 5 February 1953, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1953, b.871; Appunto de Strobel 1953, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1952, b.788.

  37. 37.

    Telegramma no.28647, 2 December 1956, ASDMAE, AP, Egitto 1956, b.1059.

  38. 38.

    Telespresso no.787/317, 22 February 1957, ASDMAE, DGAP, 1948-60, Uff.III, b.148, fasc.465.

  39. 39.

    Ballinger (2020).

  40. 40.

    Tambroni to Ministero del Tesoro, 6 February 1957, ACS PCM 1959-61 15/3/57749(3); Law 1306 of 25 October 1960, Gazzetta Ufficiale, n.279, 15 November 1960.

  41. 41.

    ‘Elementi di risposta alla interrogazione n/3209’ 8 March 1957, DGE Appunto (Del Bo) 11 May 1957 and MLPS to Centri di Emigrazione, 22 October 1957, ASDMAE, DGAP, 1948-60, Uff.III, b.148, fasc.465; ‘Propaganda contro l’emigrazione,’ ACS, MLPS—DG Collocamento della manodopera—divisione VIII accordi verso paesi comunitari, b.383.

  42. 42.

    Appunto 16 October 1957 and Prefettura to ECA & Questura, 4 June 1957, ACL, Archivio ECA, no.713, ‘Profughi dall’Egitto 1957-62.’

  43. 43.

    Amb. Cairo to MAE, 8 March 1957 & 17 May 1957, ASDMAE, DGAP, 1948-60, Uff.III, b.148, fasc.465.

  44. 44.

    Memorandum (Mascia), 19 October 1957, ACS—Ufficio del consigliere diplomatico, b.24 fasc. 3 “profughi”; ‘Padre Governanti,’ ND, ACS CRI Ufficio Madrinato, b.83 fasc. ‘varie’ s.fasc. ‘profughi dall’Egitto’, Sanfilippo (2006, 848).

  45. 45.

    Appunto 4 October 1957, ASDMAE, DGAP, 1948-60, Uff.III, b.148, fasc.465.

  46. 46.

    Gennaro to Istituto Italiano dell’Africa, 24 October 1957, ASDMAE, DGAP, 1948-60, Uff.III, b.148, fasc.465.

  47. 47.

    Straneo to PCM, 30 November 1957, ASDMAE, DGAP, 1948-60, Uff.III, b.148, fasc.465.

  48. 48.

    Morini to Gronchi, 22 May 1958, and ‘I connazionali tutti, dicono e chiedono,’ 11 December 1957, ACS, PCM 1959-61 15.3/57749.3; Sanfilippo (2006, 851).

References

Abbreviations

Bibliography

  • Ballinger, Pamela. 2020. The World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Balboni, L.A. 1906. Gl’Italiani nella Civiltà Egiziana del Secolo XIX. Egypt: Tipo-litografico v. Penasson.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brogi, Alessandro. 2006. “Competing Missions”: France, Italy, and the Rise of American Hegemony in the Mediterranean. Diplomatic History 30 (4): 741–770.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2004. Orizzonti della politica estera italiana: Stati Uniti, Europa e Mediterraneo (1945-1960). Passato e Presente 22 (62): 13–24.

    Google Scholar 

  • Caccia Dominioni, Paolo. 1966. Alamein: 1933-1962. Milano: Longanesi.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clot-Bey, A.B. 1840. Aperçu général sur l’Egypte, Cairo.

    Google Scholar 

  • Consiglio, Gregorio. 1958. Il piano Pella e l’Africa. Africa: Rivista trimestrale di studi e documentazione dell’Istituto italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente 13 (3): 119–120.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cuno, Kenneth M., and Michael J. Reimer. 1997. The Census Registers of Nineteenth-Century Egypt: A New Source for Social Historians. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 24 (2): 193–121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grange, Daniel. 1994. L’Italie et la Méditerranée (1896-1911): Les fondements d’une politique étrangère. Rome: Ecole française de Rome.

    Google Scholar 

  • Iacovella, Angelo. 1994. La presenza italiana in Egitto: problemi storici e demografici. Altreitalie 6 (12): 60–69.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kerboeuf, Anne-Claire. 2005. The Cairo Fire of 26th January 1952 and the Interpretations of History. In Re-envisioning Egypt, 1919-1952, ed. Arthur Goldschmidt, Amy J. Johnson, and Barak A. Salmoni, 194–216. Cairo: American University of Cairo Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Khuri-Makdisi, Ilham. 2010. The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Radicalism, 1860-1914. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Martelli, George. 1938. Whose Sea? A Mediterranean Journey. London: Chatto & Windus.

    Google Scholar 

  • Monroe, Elisabeth. 1938. The Mediterranean in Politics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pizzigallo, Matteo. 2008. La diplomazia italiana e i paesi arabi dell’oriente mediterraneo (1946-1952). Milano: Franco Angeli.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reynolds, Nancy. 2012. A City Consumed: Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Sanfilippo, Matteo. 2006. Per una storia dei profughi stranieri e dei campi di accoglienza e di reclusione nell’Italia del secondo dopoguerra. Studi Emigrazione/Migration Studies, XLIII 164: 835–856.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seton-Watson, Christopher. 1980. Italy’s Imperial Hangover. Journal of Contemporary History 15 (1): 169–179.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tignor, Robert. 1987. Decolonization and Business: The Case of Egypt. The Journal of Modern History 59 (3): 479–505.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Viscomi, Joseph John. 2020. Pontremoli’s Cry: Personhood, scale, and history in the Eastern Mediterranean. History and Anthropology 31 (1): 43–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2019. Mediterranean Futures: Historical Time and the Departure of Italians from Egypt, 1919-1937. The Journal of Modern History 91 (2): 341–379.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zanier, Claudio. 1985. I fondi non inventariati delle legazioni e dei consolati degli stati pre-unitari all’archivio storico del ministero degli Affari Esteri: la rappresentanza di Sardegna ad Alessandria d’Egitto (1825-1861). Oriente Moderno 1-2: 49–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joseph John Viscomi .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Viscomi, J.J. (2022). Leaving Egypt: Rethinking 1956 Through Italian Departures. In: Curli, B. (eds) Italy and the Suez Canal, from the Mid-nineteenth Century to the Cold War. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-88255-6_20

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-88255-6_20

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-88254-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-88255-6

  • eBook Packages: HistoryHistory (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics