Migrations of love and circumstance: a history of intimacy and policy in the migration of Italian war brides, 1943-1954
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In the spring of 1946, the foreign brides and children of American soldiers from the Second World War migrated to the United States through mass migrations coordinated by the War Department. This project contextualizes the lives of Italian war brides in regards to twentieth-century migration through their experiences in Italy, within American immigration policy, and their lives after immigration to America. War brides emerged from the mass global deployment of the American G.I.s through an array of coercive and consensual social-sexual encounters abroad. The Allied Military Government, Congress, and the War Department sought to control their interactions in the war-torn and inequal sexual economy of Italy, but their efforts had limited effect. Propaganda depicted Italian women in paradoxical imaginaries, but much to the dismay of overseeing institutions, these soldiers and foreign women married and had sexual relations. After the war, the restrictions and bureaucracy of the immigration system that inhibited immigration frustrated soldiers, their foreign wives, and in-laws. This required Congress to reckon with their competing desires to uphold restriction while doing everything for the soldier. This led to the facilitation and privileged immigration of war brides that established conjugal love and heteronormativity within the quota system. In America, war brides, tied to their soldier husbands, experienced an isolating migration experience away from ethnicity and towards domesticity. The complicated origins of immigration and the context of war shaped a new kind of migration around war bride identity that was anchored in a new kind of domestic assimilation that erased their migrant identities and migration experience.