Episode 1 – The Ambiguities of Assimilation: Minority-Majority Relations in Italy under Fascism
The Myth of Homogeneity Team is proud to launch the first episode of the Myth of Homogeneity Podcast Series. Aiming to disseminate findings from our research project to the widest possible audience, this series of podcasts offers a mix of case-study discussion, updates on our work in progress, curious things we encountered during our research and wanted to dig in deeper, and some behind the scene information about the work of historians.
The first episode, entitled The Ambiguities of Assimilation: Minority-Majority Relations in Italy under Fascism, is based on a talk given by Emmanuel at the Graduate Institute in March 2019. Here, he and Mona discuss the policies of assimilation carried out by Mussolini’s regime against the German and Yugoslav minorities that inhabited the Italian regions of South Tyrol and Venetia Giulia at the time. The episode shows how the fascists’ approach to assimilation was flawed by two structural weaknesses: on the one hand, the regime did not realise that its expectations were too optimistic given the capabilities it had to realise them; on the other, fascist authorities believed that the minorities could not but assimilate and become truly Italian, however, at the same time, they deeply distrusted them.
We hope you enjoy it and we would especially appreciate if you left us some feedback in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
This podcast would have never been possible without the help of Davide Rodogno, Ruxandra Stoicescu, Joshua Thew, Guillaume Pasquier and the financial support of the Swiss National Science Foundation. We thank them very much for that.
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The efforts of the Fascists in Italy suggest parallels with those of the Prussian government with regard to the Polish-speaking population. The population manifested its resistance to Germanization in a series of so-called school strikes (basically, passive resistance) 1901-1907 culminating in a general school strike in Posen (Poznań) province 1906-7. The Prussian Colonization Commission pursued a policy of settling Germans in the province, surrounding Polish farms with German farms. After the defeat of the strike, the Prussian Diet passed the Expropriation Act of 1908 empowering the Colonization Commission to expropriate Polish-owned land. Also in 1908 the German Reichstag passed the Association Act, which included a provision that restricted the right to use a language other than German at public meetings. All this in reaction to the resistance to Germanization as manifested in the school strikes.