Encyclopedia of Diasporas

2005 Edition
| Editors: Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember, Ian Skoggard

Italian Diaspora

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-29904-4_15

The narrow and mountainous peninsula of Italy, surrounded by the Mediterranean and located at the southern opening of multiple alpine passes, has long both forced and facilitated the departure of its inhabitants. Once the birthplace of peripatetic empire builders, merchants, sea-men and explorers, missionaries, scholars, artists, and musicians, Italy after 1800 contributed substantially to worker and refugee movements of such vast proportions that scholars have termed them the “proletarian mass migrations” (Hoerder, 1985, pp. 6–7). State making in Europe, the abolition of slavery in the Americas, the industrialization of Europe and North America, and the recruitment of settlers by new states to replace indigenous populations in the Americas and Australia drew residents of Italy into a world market for labor that eventually stretched across Europe, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. Almost 27 million persons—mainly unskilled men from rural districts—left Italy over the course of two...


Labor Migrant Labor Movement Foreign Worker Guest Worker Catholic Priest 
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