and Italianità in the Peninsula
Italiani non regnicoli, Non-Italian
Immigrants and Notions of Alienhood
The Outsiders—the foreigners, those belonging to other political communities—are part and parcel of the definition of nationhood. The identity of a nation is conditioned, defined, redefined and transformed by the presence of the external Others because it has a dynamic “double-edged character”: it is based on a set of common (cultural and civic) elements that link the members together from within; it presupposes difference and awareness of others from which the nation seeks to differentiate itself from without. Thus, national consciousness necessarily involves commonality with our fellow members—the ins—and difference from the nonmembers—the outs. It involves “oneness” and “otherness” at once.1
The outsiders to whom we shall refer in this chapter are two special groups of foreign immigrants who made up the category of stranieri (aliens) in the Italian kingdom during the liberal period, namely the “Italiani non regnicoli” and “non-Italian aliens.” In particular, by exploring liberal Italy’s citizenship legislation and discourses vis-à-vis these two groups of newcomers as well as extending the analysis over the second generations born in the peninsula up to 1922, this chapter demonstrates two things in relation to national identity. First, it shows that Italian citizenship policy in tandem with related debate on first-generation immigration reflected, clearly, specific Italian traditions of nationhood that are to be discussed thoroughly. Second, and from another angle, it argues that the citizenship rules pertaining to the second generations drew specific contours around the notion of Italianness that are to be compared again with those of the contemporary German counterpart.