Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Those Without a Country

The Political Culture of Italian American Syndicalists

2001
Author:

Michael Miller Topp

Those Without a Country

A groundbreaking study of this political movement.

In the first book-length history of the Italian American syndicalist movement—the Italian Socialist Federation—Michael Miller Topp presents a new way of understanding the Progressive Era labor movement in relation to migration, transnationalism, gender, and class identity. Those without a Country demonstrates that characterizations of "old" (pre-1960s) social movements as predominantly class-based are vastly oversimplified—and contribute to current debates about the implications of identity politics for the American Left and American culture generally.

Although Italian American syndicalists of the Federazione Socialista Italiana (FSI) are the focus of this illuminating study, Michael Miller Topp’s approach to his subject casts a wide and critically reflective gaze at the questions of class, ethnic, and gender identity within and beyond this politically engaged organization. Those without a Country provides important insights into the role of transnational radical migrants during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By probing the cojmplicated and contradictory links between FSI activists and the Italian and American left, Topp demonstrates that even marginal groups such as the FSI paricipated in those defining moments of the political ferment that marked this period. Those without a Country rescues and elevates an important period in political radicalism among ethnic minorities in the United States.

Journal of American History

In the first book-length history of the Italian American syndicalist movement—the Italian Socialist Federation—Michael Miller Topp presents a new way of understanding the Progressive Era labor movement in relation to migration, transnationalism, gender, and class identity. Those without a Country demonstrates that characterizations of "old" (pre-1960s) social movements as predominantly class-based are vastly oversimplified—and contribute to current debates about the implications of identity politics for the American Left and American culture generally.

Topp traces the rise and fall of the Italian American syndicalist movement from the turn of the twentieth century to the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927. His use of Italian-language sources, combined with his attention to transnationalism and masculinity, provides new vantage points on a range of related topics, including the 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile workers’ strike, the impact of World War I on this immigrant community, and the genesis of both fascism and antifascism. Those without a Country brings forward fascinating new material to revise and refine our views of not only Progressive Era radicalism but immigration, gender, and working-class history as well.

Those Without a Country

Michael Miller Topp is associate professor in the history department at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Those Without a Country

Although Italian American syndicalists of the Federazione Socialista Italiana (FSI) are the focus of this illuminating study, Michael Miller Topp’s approach to his subject casts a wide and critically reflective gaze at the questions of class, ethnic, and gender identity within and beyond this politically engaged organization. Those without a Country provides important insights into the role of transnational radical migrants during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By probing the cojmplicated and contradictory links between FSI activists and the Italian and American left, Topp demonstrates that even marginal groups such as the FSI paricipated in those defining moments of the political ferment that marked this period. Those without a Country rescues and elevates an important period in political radicalism among ethnic minorities in the United States.

Journal of American History

The book’s major strength lies in Topp’s skillful analysis of the passionate debate carried on by these syndicalists around momentous developments such as Italy’s colonial exploits in North Africa, Italian intervention in the Great War, and the dramatic rise of fascism.

American Historical Review

Topp traces the rise and fall of the Italian American syndicalist movement from the turn of the century to the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927. Topp’s transnational paradigm provides an avenue for exploring the multiple and fluid identities developed by immigrant radicals whose organizational forms, language, and activities were simultaneously shaped by events taking place in the United States and in Italy.

Science and Society

Topp’s book examines the intersection of ethnicity, migration, gender and class among radical Italian immigrants, situating these workers in their communities and their often strained relationship to the broader labor movement. This is a significant contribution to the history of the IWW.

Industrial Worker