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Italians in Brazil

The Post-World War II Experience

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Gloria La Cava

Following World War II, Italy underwent a major social crisis owing to an unprecedented unemployment rate. As a result, both the Italian and the U.S. governments promoted and subsidized the emigration of the unemployed and the unskilled, particularly to Latin America, in order to relieve Italy from internal social tensions that could politically strengthen its Communist Party. By analyzing the Brazilian case, where subsidized emigration was more predominant than elsewhere, Italians in Brazil shows how this strategy ultimately failed, as most Italians either repatriated, re-emigrated to more appealing countries, or simply did not choose Brazil as their destination. The widely accepted belief that Italian immigrants were at all times the most easily integrated group in Brazil, both from an economic and cultural point of view, is therefore challenged by the historical evidence provided in this study.