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Italian Women and International Cold War Politics, 1944-1968

Wendy Pojmann

Publication Year: 2013

The women of the Socialist/Communist Unione Donne Italiane (UDI) and the lay Catholic Centro Italiano Femminile (CIF) are the protagonists in this keen study of the relationship between national Italian women's associations and international women's movements from 1944, when the associations became active, to 1968, when another generation of activists led women's movements in a new direction. By considering the reach and impact of these organizations in relation to Italian bipolarism (the nearly equal division of the Italian people into two camps, onepro-Communist and the other pro-Western) and world events, Dr. Wendy Pojmann demonstrates that women played a much larger role than Cold War histories tend to relate. Not just voters, women were active political participants during the tumultuous decades of the Cold War. Italian Women inInternational Cold War Politics, 1944-1968 pays particular attention to the UDI's work with the largest international postwar women's organization, the pro-Soviet Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF), and the CIF's relationship with the global Catholic organization the World Movement of Mothers (WMM), to better understand the ways in which the Cold War affected both national and international agendas for women's rights.The Italian case is particularly significant in placing women's movements in a broader context because it exemplifies many of the political and ideological dichotomies that characterized this period. With the Christian Democrats at the helm of the Italian government and the powerful opposition of the Communists, the Italian women's associations developed and used creative negotiation strategies to advance their visions of womanhood in a new era. They applied similar practices in their international work.This engaging, well-documented book draws on new and original material from archival collections and oral histories to develop a critical understanding of the important but often overlooked period in women's activism between the 1940s and 1970s.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

Ac knowledgments

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pp. vii-x

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pp. 1-16

The women of the left- leaning Unione Donne Italiane (UDI) and the lay Catholic Centro Italiano Femminile (CIF) have long fi lled my thoughts and many pages of my writing over the past decade.1 It was not until I was putting the finishing touches on an article, however, that I was...

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1 Daughters of the Resistance,1943– 1946

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pp. 17-44

In September 1944, tired from the destructiveness of years of fascism and war but energized by their commitment to Italy’s liberation and optimistic about the future, a group of women gathered in Rome to form the Unione Donne Italiane (UDI). Their statement said in part...

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2 Cold War House wives? 1947– 1949

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pp. 45-74

In July 1949, the women’s section of the Italian Communist Party sent a report to the party’s central committee concerning the key problems it faced in expanding the communists’ appeal among Italian women. In its report, the women’s section listed “incomprehension and weakness...

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3 Mothers for Peace, 1950– 1955

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pp. 75-102

In July 1955, the World Congress of Mothers gathered in Lausanne, Switzerland. Clotilde Cassigoli, a Florentine house wife and Catholic Action member, delivered an emotional speech imploring women around the world to put aside their differences and cooperate as mothers...

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4 The Push for Autonomy and Women’s Rights, 1956– 1959

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pp. 103-130

In March 1956, Maria Maddalena Rossi, president of the UDI, sent a letter to Amalia di Valmarana, the president of the CIF, inviting her to the Fifth Congress of the Italian Woman, to be held in Rome in April. Rossi highlighted the UDI’s distribution of a questionnaire...

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5 Opening to the Center, 1960– 1963

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pp. 131-156

In the April 1963 issue of Cronache e Opinioni, Amalia di Valmarana asked CIF members to contribute to the World Movement of Mothers to help sustain the organization, which at that time was facing a financial crisis. In her plea to the Cronache’s readers...

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6 Confronting the Youth Generation,1964– 1968

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pp. 157-182

The end-of-the-year issues of the CIF’s monthly magazine, Cronache e Opinioni, and the UDI’s weekly, Noi Donne, poignantly encapsulate the turmoil and violence that characterized 1968: the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy; the repression of dissidents...

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Conclusion: The Results of Women’s Cold War Political Activism

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pp. 183-190

All four of the main women’s organizations discussed in this book are still active today– the Unione Donne Italiane, the Centro Italiano Femminile, the World Movement of Mothers, and the Women’s International Democratic Federation. Each continues to be active...


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pp. 191-222

Selected Bibliography of Secondary Sources

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pp. 223-230


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pp. 231-238

E-ISBN-13: 9780823250349
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823245604
Print-ISBN-10: 0823245608

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Text