January, 1970

1Jan12:00 am- 12:00 amAmericordo: Italy, Exile, and the New World12:00 am - 12:00 am

Event Details

Program series launches Americordo, a research and publishing project on the Italian Jewish in the Americas. 

Centro Primo Levi and The European Institute at Columbia University, under the auspices of the Consulate General of Italy and in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute.

Two evening programs (JCC of Manhattan and Italian Cultural Institute) and a day of study at the Italian Academy at Columbia University will launch a research, archival and publishing project dedicated to discussing the Italian Jewish experience in the Americas and the challenges it poses to the 20th century narrative of exile.

April 27th at 7:00 pm

JCC of Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th Street


Journalist Gianna Pontecorboli speaks about her upcoming book on the Italian Jewish exiles in America. Through interviews and archival research, Ms. Pontecorboli has reconstructed the arrival and early years in the United States of an heterogeneous group of Italian Jews who fled Mussolini’s persecution in 1938. Screening of excerpts of documentary films.

April 28th at 7:00 pm

Italian Cultural Institute, Park Avenue at 68th Street


Renato Camurri presents the anthology L’Italia Vista dall’America (Boringhieri, 2010)

Nobel Laureate Franco Modigliani fled Italy with his family in 1939. In the US he became a world renowned economist and taught at MIT during most of his life.

Responsible for designing a large scale model of the U.S. economy, the MPS, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank, Modigliani participated actively in the debate over economic policies both in Italy and the U.S., concentrating on the effects of public deficits. This collection of articles examines the post W.W.II Italian economic history through a frank critical assessment of political and cultural factors.

April 29th 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Italian Academy at Columbia University


This day of study is open to the public. Seating is limited. When making your reservation pleas specify the session you would like to attend.


Opening Remarks: Ira Jolles (President, Cahnman Foundation), Ambassador Richard Gardner (Columbia University)

IntroductionVictoria De Grazia (European Institute at Columbia University)

9:30 am-1:00 pm

Session I: Methodological perspective, Sources, State of Research. 

Chair: John Davis (University of Connecticut)

Renato Camurri (University of Verona), The Question of the Exile

Annalisa Capristo (Centro Studi Americani, Roma), Departure: The Flight of Jewish Intellectuals from Italy

Fraser Ottanelli (University of South Florida), Arrival: “Mussolini in America” Fascism, Antifascism Transnational Politics and the definition of Italian American identity, 1922-1938.

Lunch break 1:00 pm-1:30 pm

2:00 pm

Session II: Journeys and Reflections

Chair and moderator: Paola Mieli  (Après Coup)

Roundtable: Andrew Viterbi (USC, San Diego), George SacerdotiManuela Yona PaulEva Yona DeykinGuido Calabresi (Yale University), Vivian Treves (film maker).

3:30 pm

Session III: Collecting and Interpreting Memories in the Study the Exile  |

ChairRenato Camurri

Sandro Gerbi (journalist, editor of Antonello Gerbi’s work), The Italian Desk at the Voice of America, John Tedeschi (University of Wisconsin), Alexander Stille (Columbia University), Gianna Pontecorboli (journalist), Italian Jews in the American Army


First Session   

The Question of the Exile, Renato Camurri (University of Verona)

This presentation addresses in general terms the question of the exile (definition, narrative of 20th century exile, human experience, methodological issues) and engages in a comparative analysis of the Italian and European cultural migrations of the 1930’s and 1940’s. A great part of the research in this field concerns the flight of German-speaking intellectuals and scientists, whose contributions to American culture have often been regarded as the source of a cross-Atlantic realignment of the Western world. While recent historiography has begun to mine the French case, relatively little attention has been given so far to the experience of the Italian refugees. Drawing on the biographical and intellectual profile of Max Ascoli, an Italian Jewish scholar who arrived to the United States in 1931, Prof. Camurri explores comparatively the different phases and dynamics of the Italian political and racial exile, and articulates the types of cross-fertilization it engendered in the United States.

Renato Camurri is associate professor of Contemporary History at the University of Verona. His main field of research is 19th century political and cultural history and the history of cultural migrations in the 20th century. Prof. Camurri’s forthcoming book on the Italian exiles in the US during the two World Wars will be published by Bollati Boringhieri. He is the editor of a monographic issue of the jounal Memoria e Ricerca (31, 2009) entitled “Europe in Exile: The Migration of Intellectuals to the Americas Between the Two World Wars and of the recently published collection of articles by Franco Modigliani L’Italia Vista dall’America (Bollati e Boringhieri 2010).He has been visiting fellow at the École des Hautes Études en Science Sociale in Paris in 2006 and at Harvard University in 2005 and 2007, grazie rispettivamente ad una Lauro de Bosis post-docttoral Fellowshio e a una Fulbright Research Scholar fellowship.


Departure: The Flight of Jewish Intellectuals from Italy

Annalisa Capristo, Centro Studi Americani in Rome

The history of the marginalization, persecution, and departure from Fascist Italy of a small group of Italian Jewish intellectuals and academics, has neither been thoroughly explored, nor properly contextualized. Only in the past two decades the range of anti-Jewish measures enacted by the Fascist Regime against scientist and intellectuals has begun to emerge in its full scale. Today, enough source material is available to initiate a comprehensive study of the dynamics that surrounded the flight of Jewish intellectuals from Italy, their life in the “New World,” and the void that was left behind.

Dr. Capristo will offer an overview of the situation at the departure from Italy, assessing the actual number of the exiles and the opportunities that became specifically available to the academics. She will also discuss some of the consequences of the cultural and human impoverishment that followed the cultural emigration of 1938 and illustrate a small number of individual cases of scientists and academics, who settled in the United States.

Annalisa Capristo received her degree in Philosophy from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and her specialization in Library and Information Science from the Scuola Vaticana di Biblioteconomia. Her fellowships include the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici di Napoli, the Biblioteca Vaticana, and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. She is a librarian at the Centro Studi Americani in Rome. Dr. Capristo’s extensive research on the anti-Semitic and racist policies of Fascism resulted in the seminal study L’esclusione degli ebrei dalle accademie italiane (Zamorani, 2002), and in many important  case-studies.


Arrival: “Mussolini in America” Fascism, Antifascism Transnational Politics and the definition of Italian American identity, 1922-1938. Fraser Ottanelli, University of South Florida

This talk will focus on the struggle within the Italian-American community between supporters of the Fascist regime and its opponents during the interwar period. Specifically it will illustrated how for both groups the development of ethnic identity was shaped by the combination of their personal, cultural, and political ties with Italy, the continued repressive presence of Fascist authorities within the Italian community and finally by the various ways in which they relate with U.S. society. Finally, this presentation will provide a sense of the broader political context confronted by post-1930s Italian exiles to the United States as they came in contact with their ethnic community.

Fraser Ottanelli is Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  His areas of specialization are ethnic and labor History, comparative migration, and US history in a global age. On these topics he has authored two-books and numerous articles and essays. He is currently completing a book manuscript, Migration and the Shaping of Ethnic Identity, to be submitted to Illinois University Press. Professor Ottanelli has been a Visiting Scholar in the Department of History and Civilization of European University Institute, Florence (Italy) and a Professeur Associé at the Université Paris VII—Denis Diderot (France). Currently he served on the Executive Committee and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) at NYU.

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