Experiencing war as the 'enemy other'

Italian Scottish experience in World War II

By Wendy Ugolini

Experiencing war as the 'enemy other'


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9690-7
  • Pages: 266
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £21.99
  • Published Date: October 2014
  • BIC Category: History, Second World War, Modern warfare, c 1940 to c 1949, Humanities / Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Social History, HISTORY / Military / World War II, Humanities / Second World War
  • Series: Cultural History of Modern War


Italy's declaration of war on Britain in June 1940 had devastating consequences for Italian immigrant families living in Scotland signalling their traumatic construction as the 'enemy other'. Through an analysis of personal testimonies and previously unpublished archival material, this book takes a case study of a long-established immigrant group and explores how notions of belonging and citizenship are undermined at a time of war.

Overall, this book considers how wartime events affected the construction or Italian identity in Britain. It makes a groundbreaking and original contribution to the social and cultural history of Britain during World War Two as well as the wider literature on war, memory and ethnicity. It will appeal to scholars and students of British and Scottish cultural and social history and the history of World War II.


Winner of the Royal Historical Society's Gladstone Prize 2012|'a striking intervention in the field of Second World War historiography and a valuable corrective to the romanticised notion of a unified Britain at war ... It will no doubt be of interest to scholars and students of migration and racism, national identity, war, memory and oral history.'
Lucy Noakes, 'Contemporary British History'
, Lucy Noakes, Contemporary British History|'makes a valuable contribution to the literature on minority ethnic and national groups in wartime Britain. Through its attention to diversity within the Italian community, it revises and complicates dominant accounts of their wartime experience. Through its focus on questions of allegiance, identity, and memory, it illuminates themes that have a wider resonance. The diversity of the population in wartime Britain by nationality and ethnicity was unprecedented, but such diversity is largely absent from British memories of war. Ugolini?s themes of complex identifications as well as diversity within the Italian community are suggestive for the history of other groups of enemy or neutral nationals, including existing communities, refugees from Nazi Germany, volunteers and war-workers from Eire.'
Wendy Webster, Twentieth Century British History

, Wendy Webster, Twentieth Century British History|'will appeal to oral historians who are interested in the way gender, ethnicity and national identity intersect in myriad ways in a time of war and will add greatly to our understandings of the diverse experiences on the Home Front.'
Juliette Pattinson, Oral History, Juliette Pattinson, Oral History|'This is a most welcome and valuable addition to scholarship on the experiences of minorities during twentieth-century conflicts.'
Zoe Denness, Patterns of Prejudice, April 2013|This is an accessible text despite offering sophisticated interpretations of gendered narration, the cultural circuit and memory, community and citizenship. Strength stems from the author's sensitivity, the balance she strikes between responsibility to her respondents, and critical awareness of the tropes of narratives and their possible meanings.
, Corinna Peniston-Bird, Lancaster University, Family & Community History, Vol. 16/2, October 2013, 1 October 2013|This is a most welcome and valuable addition to scholarship on the experiences of minorities during twentieth-century conflicts.
, Zoe¨ Denness, Ph.D., Department of History, University of Birmingham, Patterns of Prejudice, 1 June 2015



The Gladstone History Book Prize, The Royal Historical Society


List of figures
List of abbreviations
1. 'I didn't want to be Italian at all': representations and realities
2. 'Long live Mussolini and Fascismo' - interwar fascistisation
3. 'Collar the lot!': the historiographical legacy of internment
4 . 'They're going to kill us!' Restrictions, riots and relocation
5. 'I don't want to fight against my uncles' - military service in Britain
6. 'He was shot by the Italians' - confronting military service overseas
7. 'My life wasn't very great': women on the home front and in the services
8. 'Non vi scorderemo mai' - commemoration, memorial and the Arandora Star
Appendix: Respondents' biographies
Select bibliography


Wendy Ugolini is a Lecturer in British History at the University of Edinburgh.

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