Olindo De Napoli

«Nove mesi in Affrica»: The history of an Italian anarchic deported to Eritrea in the crisis of the end of the century

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In May 1898, in the midst of the political crisis that followed the May uprisings, Italian Prime Minister Rudinì hastily conceived of the plan to deport 196 people assigned to forced residence (domicilio coatto) to the colony of Eritrea. Among them was Ferruccio Borsoni, an anarchist from the province of Ancona, an indirect disciple of Errico Malatesta, who had several convictions for petty crimes behind him. On October 12, the socialist newspaper «Avanti!» published a letter that Borsoni had managed to send to Italy by circumventing the correspondence ban. The letter denounced the horrible conditions of the deportees and lifted the veil, for Italian public opinion, on what was happening to the deportees in the «Italian Cayenne» thus helping to put an end to such experiment (the final closure of which took place in February 1899). Once back in Italy, at the domicilio coatto in Lipari, Borsoni published a pamphlet reporting in more detail what had happened to the deportees in Assab, with the aim of targeting in particular the director of the penal colony, Ferdinando Caputo. The police promptly confiscated the booklet, which disappeared, so that today it is not to be found in any library. The copy reproduced here was found in the historical archives of the Federazione Anarchica Italiana of Imola. The introductory essay describes the political and social context of the deportation to Assab in 1898-1899 as well as Borsoni’s life as it emerges from the archival investigation


  • Penal Deportation
  • Domicilio coatto
  • Anarchism


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