Simone Paoli

From the «Madagascar Plan» to the Algerian War: Italian Migration and French Colonialism in Africa

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Basing on primary sources from Italian and French archives, this article analyses the complex relationship between Italian migration policies and French colonialism in Africa in the crucial period between the mid-1940s and late 1950s. The first part deals with the Italian attempts to send a significant part of its surplus manpower to French colonies in Africa. Against the backdrop of mass unemployment and return from former colonies, the Italian government thought that British and especially French colonies could provide a major outlet for national migrants. The French government, too, took into serious consideration this possibility; at the end, however, colonial interests prevailed over the parallel aims to contribute to Western stabilisation and strengthen bilateral relations with Italy. The second part discusses the Italian preoccupations with the Algerian migration to France: while failing to allow mass migration to French colonies, the government in Rome realized that the French colonial policy could even challenge Italian migration to metropolitan France. The third part, finally, examines the expectations raised in Italy by the Algerian War; after some initial positive effects, the conflict did not help to significantly relaunch Italian migration to France and even led to a further deterioration of the already precarious conditions of Italian migrants. Italian workers were in fact constrained to face animosity from Algerian migrants at a time when the latter were exposed to increasing hostility from the French


  • Italian Migration –
  • French Colonialism –
  • Africa


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