University of Minnesota
Volume: "Transformations without Revolutions?," Volume 2 (2015)
Digital Object Identifier: 10.21431/Z30596
As I begin to write, I am gazing out my office window at the University of Stavanger in southwestern, coastal Norway and awaiting a visa that will be issued by the Swiss Embassy in Sweden. I must to fly to Switzerland in fewer than 10 days. To obtain the visa, I had to send my passport by registered mail to Stockholm. Even though I am a perfectly docile 64-year-old, female college professor of European origin, lives in the United States and enjoys substantial institutional support and thus legitimacy for my temporary residences in both Norway and Switzerland, I am nervous about being separated from my passport and hopeful it will arrive soon with visa and identifying photos affixed properly. For the moment, however, I am temporarily without papers.
The heightened sense of anxiety that accompanies that status is not completely irrational. The documents required by the embassy were slow to arrive from my Swiss hosts and the consul’s office in Stockholm issued conflicting directions for the visa application, in part because of recent regulation changes and in part because I made my application from Norway rather than from the U. S. While it is undoubtedly silly of me to imagine the bizarre circumstances that might call the attention of the Norwegian police to my current paperless status, I am also one hundred percent certain my Minnesota driver’s license would not satisfy anyone asking to see for identification papers. (Writing that sentence, my mind jumps to my students who are fascinated to write about identity but who must then be pushed to think analytically about the relation of identity, identification and “papers.”) Ultimately, it is indisputable that without the passport, I can neither leave Norway nor enter Switzerland. And without the visa, I cannot collect my Swiss stipendium or check into my faculty housing. A lot really does depend on the papers we carry. Ask anyone without papers—permanently without papers, that is.
As an historian of international migration I am right, I think, to want to understand how the world became a place where people can move and do with their own bodies as they wish—essential acts of personal autonomy, adulthood, and the pursuit of happiness—only if they carefully acquire stacks of documents issued by the 196 sovereign states of the world to identify their identity. I want to understand how that world was created. I want to understand how the world became a place where states check documents at each border they draw, and where those with no documents or flawed documents face the reality of policemen or other state agents removing them to some (other) country where they purportedly “belong.” Scholars who debate the relationship of ethnicity, race, nation and “belonging” as a matter of identity or social integration might also want to ponder the very different meaning of “belong” in that last sentence. “Belong” also expresses a property relationship.
This is not the same thing as desiring a history of anarchism, of course. But I am nevertheless convinced that histories of anarchists, of the social conflicts that pushed anarchists into mobility and of the social conflicts that anarchists sought, created and fought as they moved, settled, and moved again, will be central to answering those questions. As Ilkay Yilmaz suggests in her article on the Ottoman era in Istanbul, “Anti-anarchism and Security Perceptions in the Hamidian Era,” Foucault’s theoretical work on governmentality and biopolitics can certainly provide one starting place for the kinds of historical questions I have posed. Many of my current students begin there. While I recognize our shared concerns, I concluded instead from my reading of this special issue that insights on the relationship of states, borders, mobility, and the possibility of individual autonomy and liberty can emerge equally well, and perhaps in more pungent and accessible form, from the kind of archival and empirical research that Yilmaz and indeed all the authors in this special issue have undertaken. And that was also apparently the desired result for this first issue of Zapruder World(ZW): the Introduction clearly announces that “rather than addressing these methodological and theoretical issues in abstract terms, we do it through a series of empirical studies.”
So I write this afterword with great enthusiasm: methodologically this project is off to a fine start that is grounded in a renewed respect for empirical work. That empirical work shows clearly that anarchists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries began to see in its rudimentary forms one version of the world in which we today live. Most badly wanted to prevent the flowering of that world and they pursued their own, alternative, and very different, grand “idea” of a better future. The origins of the great paradox of the early twenty-first century—the paradox of millions of mobile lives that unfold against a backbeat of celebrations and attacks on globalization and through the refugee and detention camps, consular offices, barbed wire, border walls, flimsy death boats, and the pervasive maze-like non-lieux of bureaucratized transportation and border systems around the world, all while keeping watch over those precious papers—is still best explored “from the bottom up” (or “the inside out”) and through the biographical, network analysis, and careful empirical studies presented in this special issue of ZW. Such studies return us to a comprehensible yet somewhat strange and unfamiliar past, filled with living, breathing, and sentient, feeling human beings; they do much more than provide illustrations for the well-known theoretical lineaments of govermentality or the Foucaultian panopticon. The ultimate failure of anarchism to prevent our own world from emerging does not make the anarchists of these empirical studies irrelevant; on the contrary it makes the study of their lives and their vision more important. Anarchists saw in formation what many people in the world today live with quite uncomfortably but cannot always see, name or challenge.
Although the articles collected here were not framed as studies of mobility (nor should they have been), mobile people and mobile ideas are at the heart of every one of them. Davide Turcato‘s article, “Italian Anarchism as a Transnational Movement,” is reprinted here in large part because—as the introduction to the special issue notes—it articulated an argument for transnational analyses of anarchism even at a time (2007) when scholars—notably in the discipline of sociology—were expressing doubts about the usefulness of transnationalism (and, I would add, diaspora, too) as analytical concepts. For Turcato, transnational analysis held the power to revise historical interpretations of the anarchist movement itself. As he wrote, “the movement’s seeming entrances and exits on the Italian stage in fact correspond to shifts of initiative from the Italian territory to the movement’s transnational segment,” revealing “forms of continuity and organization unavailable to analyses of national scope.” Of course—and Turcato’s studies show this—there was no abstract “anarchist movement” that entered and exited from any particular national stage but rather scores of mobile anarchists who did so.
In this special issue, Maria Migueláñez Martínez confirms and deepens Turcato’s point especially well as she traces a sequence of anarchist exiles’ physical movements, taken in response to repressive political regimes, between Buenos Aires, in Argentina and Montevideo, in Uruguay, and between these places in South America and the Civil War in Spain and, to a lesser degree, Fascist Italy. Mobility figures in a somewhat different way for Ilkay Yilmaz, who notes that Ottoman administrators’ concerns with anarchists developing alongside their surveillance of a broader group defined as vagrants and composed typically of young, male, seasonal workers understood to be out of the direct control of fathers, family, and state—and therefore potential “mischief makers.” Kirwin R. Shaffer describes not one but seven transnational circuits of people and anarchist ideals and strategies in the Americas, with each bringing the more mobile activists into contact with diverse but also local networks of native activists—along the coasts of North America, around the Caribbean, the U.S./Mexico borderlands, the Panama Canal Zone, the western shores of South America, the Andean Countries and the Rio de Plata. Andrew Hoyt, finally, ponders how a pamphlet printed in New England by followers of Galleani managed to survive and continued to travel. It passed through the hands of an aging, socialist colleague of Carlo Tresca to an obscure coal mining town in West Virginia—a safe place to hide out from surveillance, Hoyt suggests—before being obtained by a Sicilian miner who seems to have taken it to New York and delivered it into the hands of an aging Galleani supporter who also managed to survive clandestinely and whose library was eventually given to sympathetic activists in Italy to preserve for several more decades before sending the pamphlets to Dana Ward in California for digitization. In Hoyt’s article and in the other articles collected here, the authors have succeeded admirably in bringing into focus, as ZW‘s editors hoped, the relationship between the somewhat abstract “flows, exchanges, connections, and diasporas, on the one hand, and individual and collective identities, on the other.” That is the major strength of this special issue.
Reading these articles together, it is hard not to wonder whether it was the ideology and local (sometimes violent) activism of anarchists or their pronounced mobility and success in forging transnational movements that most troubled the consolidating states of the late nineteenth century. Undoubtedly it was a combination of all these factors. Still, it is worth thinking specifically about why modern states so often prefer to govern sedentary subjects, when capitalism, as a global system, obviously mobilizes labor as proletarianized or “rootless” and interchangeable workers, a situation that anarchists, socialists, syndicalists and communists—the entire range of Italian-speaking sovversivi(subversives) —acknowledged and problematized. Even today, one need not—again—think only abstractly or theoretically about this question. Contemporary activists among Mexican labor migrants in the U.S.—a group that has long recognized how NAFTA and U.S. policy disrupts Mexico’s national economy, creating inequalities that encourage migration—confront this issue in their everyday work, usually in the form of workers’ claims that they would have preferred to remain at home and in their feeling they have been forced to migrate. Activist David Bacon has responded recently by advocating for “the right to not migrate.” (Bacon and others, of course, acknowledge that the right to remain at home is intimately related to the right to move freely; they do not advocate further restrictions on movement but the end of global inequalities through political mobilization.1)
World historians and archaeologists have provided a unique perspective on this issue with convincing evidence that every stateless humanoid and human society from at least the time of the departure of homo erectus from Africa survived through regular, often seasonally patterned movement.2 They suggest further how the organization of states mattered historically. Since the time of the first agrarian states, societies have generally feared and disparaged their nomadic pastoralist and hunter-gather neighbors as “barbarians” who threaten the more sedentary ways of life of “civilized” peoples.3 Historians of migration are now also beginning to tell the story of how nation states after 1700 began not only to enumerate their populations (called somewhat ominously, in the language of demographic statistics, “stock” data, a metaphor that oddly transforms rulers into herders of subject animals) but also to track the movement of the “stock” (that is, people) within and across the national boundaries such states drew, often literally, in the sand. According to historians Christiane Harzig and Dirk Hoerder, “sophisticated collection of empirical data on migration began in the contexts of (1) eighteenth-century urbanization and increasing mobility within European states, (2) the nineteenth-century transatlantic mass migrations, and (3) twentieth-century northern Chinese migrations to Manchuria.”4 Mobility, then, has long carried with it the odor of disrepute and danger; states have long also sought to control and regulate mobility as a threat to social order by collecting information about migrants and studying them.
Yet there was also something special and important about the years between 1850 and 1950 that are the focus of this special issue. States around the world, but especially around the Atlantic, sought new accommodations to a capitalism that mobilized everything and everyone through increasingly draconic restrictions on mobility and requirements for ever more papers to identify those permitted to move. Ultimately, restrictions on movement became as global as capital itself and human mobility—including the migrations of anarchists—increasingly assumed the forms of either clandestine movement and life or had to squeeze its infinite variety into the heavily regulated and hierarchical typology of tolerated movements (of guest workers and asylum-seekers; of refugees and family members; professional visitors and investors; of international students and tourists) that we know today.5
Any focus on the mobility of people, conflicts, ideas or even of things (like pamphlets and newspapers) inevitably opens the always-delicate discussion of why scholars interested in (and often committed to) internationalist activism and pursuing the study of internationalism and activists transnationally at spatial scales above (and sometimes also below) that of a single state territory would choose to focus, as this special issue does, on a group that is also usually (although sometimes wrongly, I believe) naturalized as a single, homogeneous, national group—that is, to focus on Italians. Zapruderhas been clear about its methodological preferences—it desired to move beyond “epistemological Eurocentrism and methodological nationalism,” to explore “global, comparative, entangled and trans-local” and “the complex interaction between the ‘local’ and ‘global, ‘” through “comparative history, histoire croisée, micro-history, multi-sited ethnography, translocality, teleconnections, diaspora” —and the aims of ZWseem little different. Yet there it is: the outcome is a special issue organized, albeit somewhat loosely, around the “Italian” anarchists. Can authors ever really escape what Gerard Noiriel called “the tyranny of the national” after making that decision?
This was a question that ZW’s editorial collective apparently wrestled with. It may very well be true that in their peripatetic journeys, in the face of constantly escalating and effective police repression, Italy’s anarchists created strategies for maintaining solidarity that can be useful in our own times of renewed globalization. But that is not the justification offered for this special issue. Focusing on Italian speakers makes sense, readers are told in the introduction to this issue, because Italian anarchism has been “a ‘traditional’ topic in the history of social conflict, but also one that has been radically renewed in the last two decades.” The study of Italian anarchism “represents a concrete example of a renewed research field rather than a static and closed one.” That is absolutely the case. Still, many (and perhaps even most), research fields remain active and self-renewing over a generation or two. So let me begin, first, by applauding the journal’s determination “to investigate and reflect upon methodological approaches that enable scholars to break off from the Western- and nation-centric cage” while also seeing “a relationship of continuity rather than polarization between ‘local’, ‘national’ and ‘global’ scales, as well as between the ‘micro’ and the ‘macro.’ But let me then just as quickly suggest an alternative justification for focusing a first issue of ZWon Italy’s anarchists rather than the anarchists speaking some other language or mix of dialects.
One excellent reason for launching ZW with a special issue on Italy’s anarchists is that scholars of Italy’s migrants, including the anarchists among them, have played a central role in creating and keeping alive a variety of alternatives to methodological nationalism and national historiographies during the period of nationalism’s greatest hegemony and scholarly influence. There is a long and rich historiography of studying the migrations of people who started their lives in the so-called geographical expression of Italy before leaving—temporarily, permanently, or repeatedly—their birthplaces.6 Comparably capacious and methodologically innovative historiographies exist for only a few other modern migrations, notably the ones emanating from China.
On one level, I understand the reluctance of younger scholars to engage with this historiography. At times in the nineteenth century, especially, Italian scholars wrote studies that tried to mold evidence on mobility in and out of Italy into a narrative of positive nation-building and international influence. Mark Choate, for example, has described the unfulfilled dreams of demographic colonialism that Italian nationalists often promoted as began to study and discuss their nation’s high rates of emigration.7 Yet even the thoroughly nationalist political economist Leone Carpi found (soon after the creation of the Italian nation state, which he fervently supported) that the many newly Italian citizens he found living outside of Italy’s national territories—settlements he predictably referred to as colonies—did not predictably recognize their “belonging” to the nation or predictably or dependably pursue national interests in their lives and economic activities. In it publications, the Italian state nevertheless peremptorily nationalized its mobile subjects (few of whom spoke the national language or felt much if any loyalty to the nation) by optimistically labeling them all as the italiani al’estero(Italians abroad). This label persists not just in scholarship but as a juridical category for Italian citizen voters in the twenty-first century. The historiography on the italiani al’esterodoes not, at first glance, seem like a promising foundation for histories of anarchist internationalists even though all the contributors to this special issue also refer casually to residents of Italy as “Italians.”
The historiography of Italy’s migrants has not however been unrelentingly nationalist in its intentions or in his geography. Scholars have since the early twentieth century repeatedly grasped for alternative geographies, labels and research designs that would allow them to analyze the breadth of migratory scatterings from the peninsula, and the comings and goings of its 26 million labor migrants, without engaging Italian nationalism, whether in methodological or any other form, and without simply assuming that migrants were “Italians” who felt they belonged to the Italian nation or owed loyalty to an Italian state. (For one early example, see economist Robert F. Foerster’s 1919 book, Italian Emigration of our Times which studied and compared the economics origins of labor migrations from Italy to Europe and North and South America). In particular, the years after 1960 saw great scholarly innovation, with labor historians, historians of art and culture, and historians of migration all searching for a method and a geography that allowed them to escape the iron cage of the nation. In the 1960s and 1970s some still wrote about de-territorialized Italians as nationalized migrants—as italiani al’estero; italiani fuori d’Italia(Italians outside Italy); italiani nel mondo (Italians of the world). But other scholars began instead to imagine migrants inhabiting L’italia fuori d’Italia (Italy outside Italy) or altre italie (other Italys); these were not necessarily nationalized spaces and of course none had (or ever advocated for) a state of its own. While neither L’italia fuori d’Italia nor altre italieseem particularly appropriate for the study of Italy’s anarchists—largely because of their decided preference for cultural cosmopolitanism and political activism across national boundaries and languages, as documented especially by Shaffer—transnational methods for the study of Italy’s migrants had become common and popular already in the 1970s and 1980s. They were ubiquitous by the time, in the early 1990s, when the oft-cited transnational theorists in anthropology began to advocate for the study of transnationalism and to critique the methodological nationalism of migration scholarship.
In 1992 Sam Bailey, to mention one example, famously called for “village outward” studies—a method I recalled especially while reading Hoyt’s “pamphlet-outward” approach and Turcato’s Malatesta-outward analyses of transnational presses and their connections.Samuel L. Baily, “The Village-Outward Approach to Italian Migration: A Case Study of Agnonesi Migration Abroad, 1885–1989,” Studi Emigrazione 29, 105 (1992): 305-322. Writings about Italy’s diasporas followed in the 1990s and reinforced scholarly studies that focused rather on local and translocal networks and identities among migrants born in Italy and on the overall disinterest of most migrants, until well into the twentieth century, in the creation of an Italian nation, as well as their overall skepticism about and in some cases outright hostility to those in control of Italy’s state.8 The diasporic and transnational methods established in the 1980s and 1990s provided the methodological springboards for this special issue and for the authors contributing to it. Almost every article collected here refers to an “Italian diaspora” or to transnational networks. But few seem comfortable in acknowledging the earlier transnational or diasporic work of the 1990s, perhaps because its focus was on Italy and Italians and not on the anarchists themselves.
Yet within the post-1960 historiography a small cluster of scholars also pioneered the development of the comparative, diasporic, transnational, and village-outward methodologies advocated by the contributors to ZW precisely because they wished to understand the mobility and significance of the Italy’s sovversivi around the world. Ernesto Ragionieri, the influential PCI intellectual and prolific historian, may have been the first to conceive of a global workers’ movement emerging in the context of Italy’s labor migrations;9 his work provided one inspiration for the international collaborative research project I initiated in the 1990s and for the chapter on “Nationalism and Internationalism” in Italy’s Many Diasporas.10 The notion that anarchists formed a kind of ideologically and socially interconnected diaspora (one with—obviously—no aspirations to statehood), with shifting transnational relations to each other and with shifting local relations to the networks and lives of the mass of labor migrants and diverse multi-ethnic natives has been part of the scholarly discourse for almost two decades. The application of comparative methods to the history of radicalism are more widely acknowledged by the authors to this special issue—e.g. the important bibliography on the anarchist press, organized according to nation of publication, by Leonardo Bettini (cited by Turcato and Migueláñez Martínez as foundational) and the collaboration led by Bruno Bezza (cited by Migueláñez Martínez) that provided inspiration for Italian Workers of the World(cited by Turcato) a decade later.
This special issue creates a sturdy, new limb on a historiographical “family tree” of studies of Italian-speaking subversives that had already begun to extricate itself from the grip of national histories and nationalist historiographies over the course of the past half-century. Of the three essays that focus most explicitly on Italian-speaking anarchists in this special issue, Maria Migueláñez Martínez’s “Atlantic Circulation of Italian Anarchist Exiles,” positions her own work most extensively within that historiography. She is fortunate that the Rio Plata, flowing as it does through several modern nations into the Atlantic, provides a ready transnational geography for her study of the movements of anarchist activists between Uruguay and Argentina and between America and Europe in response to the changes in the politics and geopolitics of their era. Migueláñez Martínez brilliantly interprets their lives, commitments, and movements within transnational, national and local historiographies of immigration and anarchist activism; her sources are drawn broadly from Italian- and Spanish-language police records, anarchist manuscript collections, state archives, the press, and anarchist memoirs scattered through archives in at least five different countries. As noted above, her article provides the most convincing example of mobility as a strategy for continuing and fairly continuous activism that I have read, in part because of her careful attention to biography and the micro or local level. (As a side note to this article, I also want to state how thrilled I was to discover here the life and work of Luce Fabbr, whose poetry and activist life, I now think, deserves to be compared and connected to the biography and writings of the older anarchist female exile in North America, Virgilia D’Andrea, and to the female anarchist activists in North America discussed by Caroline Waldron and Jennifer Guglielmo.11)
Migueláñez Martínez’s research as well as her historiographical perspective is both transnational and multi-lingual. This is exactly the type of research required to succeed in writing the type of history that ZW advocates. But how many scholars can undertake such research alone? It is work that requires international professional networks and travel, significant research costs (even as the digital archive expands), significant training in languages and at least some familiarity with multiple national historiographies. Only a few scholars are in a position to do that kind of research alone, which is why so many of the earliest experiments of the 1990s and 2000s took the form of edited collections and international collaborations.
Eschewing historiography (beyond a citation to Turcato) almost entirely for radical epistemological and methodological innovation, Andrew Hoyt in his article, “Hidden Histories and Material Culture: The Provenance of an Anarchist Pamphlet,” demonstrates how careful attention to the materiality, construction, de-accessioning and silences of archives can, when combined with determined and collaborative empirical research, lead scholars far deeper into the lives, subjectivities and networks of the sovversivi of Italy than more commonly used records (including the police and their archive records) allow. In doing so, he takes a large and very promising step beyond the methods utilized to create the historiography of the 1990s and early 2000s. Hoyt draws lightly from theory and readers in new theoretical arenas (notably archival and material culture studies) in order to create a new methodology that is “almost bibliographic” in its analysis of print culture. He is also careful to acknowledge the material and collaborative foundation for this type of research, and points toward a network of 100 scholars and anarchists whose collective knowledge and memory enabled him to see and to contextualize the significance, mobility, and survival of a single, ephemeral publication from 1913. Given the increasing power of new forms of digital representation of rich—but, often, in the past viewed as trivial—empirical data, I was dizzied by the possibility of compiling and connecting this kind of analysis across a widening geography and timeline of anarchist pamphlet production, outward from Barre and the Galleanisti to the wider world. And beyond the analysis of pamphlets, beckons, of course, the even richer possibilities of research into the anarchist and related presses of the sovversivi.
An appreciation for the global spread and transnational connections among the hundreds of newspapers documented in Bettini’s 1976 bibliography undoubtedly provided the inspiration for Davide Turcato’s 2007 call for a more transnational history of Italian-language anarchism. Rather than situate his call within the historiography described above, Turcato reacts mainly to the historiography on Italian anarchism as a movement and as an ideology. He sees transnational methods as holding the power to revise that historiography in fundamental ways. By introducing earlier interpretations of anarchy by Eric Hobsbawm (about millenarianism) and Nunzio Pernicone (who developed a somewhat different version of what Turcato calls the “advance and retreat” cycle of anarchist activism), he positions his analysis of the transnationalism of newspapers published in North America as an alternative to both. He combines an analysis of the geography and content of North American Italian-language anarchist newspapers with the biographies of key, traveling speakers and editors (with a special focus on Malatesta and some of his followers), mapping with words (as Shaffer also does) but also with somewhat less precision the kinds of networks of mobile men, money, and ideas that Hoyt uncovered with his analysis of the provenance and materiality of a single pamphlet. Turcato’s examples of the integration of newspaper content and personnel between Italy and North America, and the importance of donations from abroad when the press in North America was under attack, provides good evidence for his continuity argument and I suspect that others will continue to confirm his insights.
I am less convinced however that the “many-headed hydra” described by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker’s as symbol of the radical aspirations and dreams of early modern seamen provides the best metaphor for Turcato’s theme of continuity in the anarchist presses and activism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Appealing as it is as metaphor or symbol, the hydra emerged from an early modern Atlantic characterized by horrifically coerced forms of mobility (slavery, penal transportations, impressment) and regimes of labor; by life on the margins and interstices of competing, wildly unequal European empires-in-formation, and by deeply ineffective mercantile policing (especially in the British empire) that allowed piracy as a capitalist business practice and proletarian way of life to flourish. With both early modern states and capitalism still nascent and fluid, the early modern seamen faced a radically different world of constraints and liberties than the ones that global capital and increasingly vigorous and assertive nation states would create across the nineteenth century. It was within that world that Malatesta, Galleani, and the exiles of the Rio Plata navigated, strategized to survive and also thought—hard and continuously—about the power of states as well as masters, and about the power of capital as well as wealth.
In contrast to the three articles that focus squarely on Italian-speaking anarchists in this special issue, articles on Latin America by Kirwin Shaffer and on Hamidian Istanbul by Ilkay Yilmaz explore places where Italian anarchists were present but less central. Together, the two articles offer an alternative to and possibly also a critique of the transnational methods of Turcato, Hoyt and Migueláñez Martínez. In both articles the authors either advocate (for Shaffer) or are committed as researchers (Yilmaz) to research designs and methodologies that privileges the local over the national and sometimes over the transnational or imperial, as well. Shaffer is especially clear in assessing the “small, uneven roles” of Italian migrant anarchists although he nevertheless concludes that their work as cultural brokers often meant that local movements (which Shaffer treats metaphorically as “dots”) were more effectively connected (metaphorically, again, through what Shaffer calls “lines”) to transnational than to national institutions and activities. By contrast, according to Yilmaz, while Ottoman administrators specifically sought to exclude Italians (because of mobility and their international association with anarchy), it is only in the final pages of her essays that she outlines the presence of Italy’s migrants in the Ottoman realm. And she concludes that ultimately the migrants, including the anarchists among them, were not perceived as core threats to the Ottoman state—in the way that, for example, migrant Armenians and Bulgarians were. As a result few were deported back to Italy (where they “belonged”) even when Hamidian administrators held damaging evidence against them. Both authors, then, remind readers that the geography of anarchist activism in the Italian language had its own margins and borders; it did not in fact embrace the entire world; it was not truly global. This is an important point for anyone seeking a geography from which to write transnational or translocal histories.
For Yilmaz, Italy’s migrants fade to the margins as she views the past through the administrators’ gaze and through the Ottoman archive. The creation of administration and administrators’ construction of threats to the state provide her main focus, and she interprets both themes through the lens of state theory in colonial and imperial settings, not through the historiographies of mobility, transnational or diasporic Italy or anarchy. For Shaffer, by contrast, the marginality of Italy’s anarchists in Latin America provides one brick in a different but also larger historiographical and methodological argument about scholarly inattention to the native, the local and the indigenous in the creation of anarchist networks and anarchist histories. Shaffer first describes his frustrations as a researcher, who was entranced by the possibility of transnational history but who also quickly found himself engaged in the “unsatisfying practice” of “tracing networks without context.” Based on this research experience, Shaffer argues for greater appreciation of the “dots” or nodes where anarchists lived and worked. (It never became entirely clear which historians of anarchism Shaffer saw as “tracing networks without context,” although surely the critique does not apply to Turcato, Hoyt and Migueláñez Martínez.)
Moving beyond his experience as individual researcher Shaffer asserts further “it was not the lines but the dots (the nodal cities) that were keys to this maintenance. They were the anchors for the networks” that kept anarchists alive and active as they traveled from location to location. As he develops this argument Shaffer should provoke a good debate with the other contributors to this issue. Shaffer maintains a consistent point of view as he examines the “celebrity” anarchist migrants and asserts that “it is a mistake to think of Latin American anarchism as a ‘tropical’ form of European libertarianism, as though what existed on the Continent was the original and true form and American versions but pale imitations.” Indeed, Shaffer’s geography of seven transnational anarchist circuits within Latin America is introduced at least in part to demonstrate the diversity of local and indigenous coalitions in the dots at the center of or along the connecting lines of anarchist circuits. Perhaps a more savvy reader will recognize which historians Shaffer sees as having argued that Latin American anarchism is a pale imitation of European libertarianism. I concluded mainly that none of the contributors to this special issue (and as best as I can tell, none of the pioneers of Italian transnational and diasporic studies of the sovversivi, viewed Latin anarchism in this fashion) did so. Nevertheless the provocation is there: is continuity guaranteed by the dots—through local alliances with native and indigenous anarchists—or through movement along the transnational lines? I look forward to the debate on this point.
Throughout his essay, Shaffer argues for a hemispheric approach and a hemispheric geography of anarchist activism and transnational connections. This is a plea often made by Latin Americans and by scholars of Latin America, traceable—plausibly—to Bolivar and to Jose Marti but also identified, historiographically, with Herbert Bolton.12 Here too is an invitation to dialogue and debate. Is, for example, Shaffers’s hemispheric geography best viewed as part of, a complement to or an alternative to the Atlantic geography that implicitly and explicitly frames the articles by Turcato, Hoyt and Migueláñez Martín? Does it matter if the hemispheric approach would seem to exclude and further marginalize studies of anarchists in the colonized worlds of Asia, eastern Europe, and Africa? Ultimately, the essays of both Shaffer and Yilmaz challenge the other contributors to acknowledge and to think about the spatial limits of transnational and diasporic research designs for the study of Italian-speaking anarchists and anarchists in general.
Finally, centers and peripheries are the product of language as well as relations of social solidarity and of the kinds of social conflict that global inequality generates. As someone who has often used the proverb tutto il mondo è paeseto capture the intersection of universalism and particularism among Italy’s migrants, I enjoyed the opportunity to think about how “The Whole World is our Homeland”—which the editors chose as the title for this special issue—resonated in similar and divergent ways. Expressed in a dozen different dialects, tutto il mondo è paesewas drawn from the rural peasant and artisanal cultures and dialects of the much larger group of Italy’s labor migrants. Migueláñez Martínez points us instead toward the origins of nostra patria è il mondo intero in an anarchist publication on the Rio Plata in the mid-1920s. In the proverb, tutto il mondo, can be translated as “everyone” as well as the “whole world,” while paesecan mean “country,” “village,” or “home.” Patriatoo can mean birthplace, in the narrower sense of a particular town and beloved landscape, or it can take on the grander meaning of the larger, national fatherland. At the time when the anarchists of the Rio Plata asserted that nostra patria è il mondo intero, fascists in Italy had begun to refer to the national homeland instead as the madrepatria—the mother fatherland. And in her own translation of the phrase, Migueláñez Martínez captures that increasingly popular meaning of patria, as the “fatherland is the entire world.” Both nostra patria è il mondo intero and the older and proverbial tutto il mondo è paeserepresent self-identifications that differ significantly from one another—also frequently used by anarchists—that proclaimed theirs to be a movement of “those without a country” (i senza patria). I could not help but wonder, as I read these articles, how widely or unevenly such sayings and labels traveled through anarchist circuits. As the digital archive of anarchist writings expands, it will become possible to better analyze the travels of each.
If I had a final wish for the next round of studies of anarchist pamphlets, archives, press, and biographies, then, it would be attention to the language of anarchism itself. This is not a call for either ascent or descent into discourse but a reminder that language is the means of all communication. I have also long remained astonished that Italy’s sovversiviincluded so many activists passionately committed to poetry as well as to the writing of ideological polemics; it suggests how deeply anarchists cared about the written and spoken word. Anarchists frequently published pamphlets and newspapers in bi- and tri-lingual editions—in part because they lived transnational lives but also in part because they were themselves multi-lingual. They wrote, furthermore, in quite distinctive styles. Compare the writings of Galleani and Malatesta to gain a sense of how unique each was as a writer (and probably also as a speaker). Less prominent anarchists too were often speakers of dialect as well as one or more languages. The very languages they spoke figured in both the nation-building campaigns of new nineteenth-century states and in the creation of various kinds of linguistic cosmopolitans at the local level. (Some even advocated the inclusion of French and Italian languages within a “Latin” America of Portuguese and Spanish speakers.) The shift to another language—English? Spanish? French? —as a lingua franca facilitating communication among activists—something one sees even in the decision to publish a special issue on Italy’s anarchists in English rather than in Italian—still needs to be understood. In English, for example, “movement” means both human motion through space and organization and political activism; similarly, mobilization can refer either to migration or politics. This is not the case in all languages.
In short and in conclusion: Language is part of the story and history of anarchism. It too needs to be told and understood. Neither the dots nor the lines of the anarchist movement existed without communication, making the analysis of language the next great desideratum of studies of mobile anarchists.
- David Bacon, The Right to Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration (Boston: Beacon Press, 2013).
- Peter Bellwood, ed., First Migrants: Ancient Migration in Global Perspective (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).
- Ian M. Ferris, Enemies of Rome: Barbarians through Roman Eyes (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2000); Nicola Di Cosmo, Ancient China and it Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
- Christiane Harzig and Dirk Hoerder, What is Migration History? (Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press, 2009), 54-55.
- Adam McKeown, Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).
- I provide a historiographical review—and full citations to the literature discussed in this and the next two paragraphs—in “l’Italia fuori d’Italia,” in Paola Corti and Fillippo San Matteo, ed. L’Italia delle Migrazioni, Annali della Storia d’Italia, vol. 24 (2009).
- Mark I. Choate, Emigrant Nation: The Making of Italy Abroad (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008).
- In addition to Gabaccia, “L’Italia fuori d’Italia,” a thorough review of this literature can be found in Susanna Iuliano and Loretta Baldassar, “Deprovincialising Italian Migration Studies: An overview of Australian and Canadian research,” FULGOR 3 (3, November 2008): http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/deptlang/fulgor/.
- I cite here only works that do not appear in the notes to the articles collected in the special issue. Ernesto Ragionieri, “Italiani all’estero ed emigrazione di lavoratori italiani: un tema di storia del movimento operaio,” in Belfagor, Rassegna di Varia Umanità XVII, 6 (1962): 640 669.
- Gabaccia, “Worker Internationalism and Italian Labor Migration, 1870-1914,” International Labor and Workingclass History 45 (Spring 1994): 63-79; Italy’s Many Diasporas (London and Seattle: University College of London. See also Gabaccia, Iacovetta and Ottanelli, “Laboring Across National Borders: Class, Gender, and Militancy in the Proletarian Mass Migrations,” Special Issue “New Approaches to Global Labor History, International Labor and Workingclass History 66 (Fall 2004): 57-77.
- Franca Iacovetta and Lorenza Stradiotti, “Betrayal, Vengeance, and the Anarchist Ideal: Virgilia D’Andrea’s Radical Antifascism in (American) Exile, 1928–1933,” Journal of Women’s History 25, 1 (Spring 2013); Caroline Waldron Merithew, “Anarchist Motherhood: Toward the Making of a Revolutionary Proletariat in Illinois’ Coal Towns,” in Gabaccia and Iacovetta, Women, Gender and Transnational Life (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002); Merithew, “Domesticating the Diaspora: Memory and the Life of Sister Katie,” in Intimacy and Italian Migration. Gender and Domestic Lives in a Mobile World, ed. Donna Gabaccia and Loretta Baldassar (New York: Fordham University Press, 2010); Jennifer Guglielmo, Living the Revolution: Italian Women’s Resistance and Radicalism in New York City, 1880-1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
- Herbert Bolton, “Epic of Greater America,” American Historical Review 38 (April 1933): 448-74; Bolton, History of the Americas: A Syllabus with Maps (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1935).