Abstract: Among the clichés in modern European history, one of the most common is of Italy as ‘the least of the Great Powers’, unable to punch above its weight in the international arena and classed as a ‘latecomer’ to imperial conquest. In this article, I suggest instead that historians have been looking in the wrong place, and in the wrong period, for evidence of Italian ambition. By concentrating on territorial acquisitions in Africa, they are assessing only a small, relatively unproductive and arguably atypical slice of Italy’s global presence. I argue that even before national unification, and long before acquiring a formal Empire, Italy built a global influence structured by the activities of overseas migrants. Yet, despite the recent ‘turn’ to global history and the stress on diversity in colonial experience, the chronology and geography of the European nation-state still shape our understanding of nineteenth-century Empire. Looking at the hugely successful Italian colony in Peru, at both its commercial and scientific interests and at a violent attempt to establish a settler colony in Chanchamayo, in the Peruvian Amazon, I argue that this Italian world was driven not a nation state but relied instead on a common culture, a culture that was created by a capacity for local assimilation, by Catholic notions of civilisation and by ideas of white racial superiority. Modern imperialism was shaped as much by ‘lesser’ powers, often before – or without – the nation-state, and in continuity with the practices of the early-modern period. Moreover, mundane migrants could be the most successful empire-builders. I conclude with a call to take note of the full and diverse range of nineteenth-century colonial activities, and not to assume the primacy of formal Empires in the period of ‘High Imperialism.’



Abstract: In recent years, both recreation scholars and practitioners began calling for a sectoral return to municipal recreation’s historical roots as a public good (e.g., Mahaffey, 2011; ISRC & CPRA, 2015; Cureton and Frisby, 2011; Smale and Reid, 2002; Taylor and Frisby, 2010). Blaming neoliberal ideology for the current pay-per-use model, these calls for a more inclusive recreation system not only highlighted the negative impacts of a consumer-based recreation system, they suggested that the profession’s ‘business-like’ practices should be of concern because they are in direct opposition to the field’s historic mandate of ‘equal opportunity’ for access. A central assumption underlying these calls for the recreation profession to return to ‘its historical roots’ is that municipal recreation services, until late ‘80s and ‘90s, were available to all members of society. This narrative – of a more inclusive and equitable era in recreation’s past – is, however, a romanticized account of public recreation’s history. As I will argue throughout this dissertation, public recreation has always been, and continues to be, a location where racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, and ableist, outcomes are (re)produced. Using Foucauldian genealogy, I trace some of the conditions that have given rise to what I have labeled the recreation industrial complex. More specifically, I use a vast collection of formal and informal archival documents to demonstrate how our public recreation facilities (both past and present) are intricately linked to the white supremacist logics of Western exceptionalism, settler colonialism, ableism, racism, capitalism, and (hetero)patriarchy. I begin by analyzing three seemingly unrelated pieces of Canada’s past: Indigenous legislation, immigration policy and race science. I do so in an attempt to politicize the category ‘Canadian’ and demonstrate how it has been taken-for-granted in our traditional recreation histories. I then weave these seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian history into a recreation context. More specifically, I analyze two distinct eras of recreation facility development – the social medicine era (1880s-1920s) and the social welfare era (1930s-1970s) – and provide examples of how recreation was both produced by, and reproduced technologies of white supremacy. Finally, I demonstrate how these historical discourses, practices, and policies have created the conditions for the a public recreation system that positions everyone except white, middle to upper class, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied boys and (younger) men as an excludable type (Titchtosky, 2003). By exposing the ways particular bodies came to be centered in a recreation context, the purpose of this work is to demonstrate how historical inclusions and exclusions (whether intentional or not) were in fact part of a broader biopolitical project intended to sustain white supremacy, with the goal of encouraging critical dialogues about what is inherently problematic, difficult, and dangerous in the discourses, practices, and policies that govern our contemporary public recreation systems.


Abstract: This dissertation explores early twentieth-century Palestine through the lens of bodies and material culture. While histories of modern Palestine often treat “Jews” and “Arabs” as naturally distinct categories, I examine how these categories were constructed as racialized, embodied, and opposing identities. At a time when Palestine witnessed major changes— including the transition from Ottoman to British rule, mass Zionist settlement, shifting labor patterns, and the rise of Palestinian nationalism—residents made sense of their identities by spreading ideas about whose bodies were like, or unlike, their own. This dissertation focuses on Sephardi and Mizrahi (Eastern) Jews, many of whom lived in Palestine prior to modern Zionist settlement, which offers a unique lens to explore the process of Arab-Jewish boundary-making. At the turn of the twentieth century, Mizrahi Jewish bodies were not always clearly marked as exclusively “Jewish” or “Arab.” Their clothing, accents, and cultural tastes were often indistinguishable from those of their Muslim and Christian neighbors in Palestine. However, the growing colonial-national conflict in the 1920s and 1930s forced Mizrahi Jews to confront their position vis-à-vis Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. They adopted several strategies in light of this new reality. Many abandoned “Arab” clothing and accents in order to assimilate into the Ashkenazi-dominated Jewish community (Yishuv). In doing so, they helped produce a visual and sonic Arab-Jewish division on the ground. Others challenged the emerging divide by refusing to change their bodies. They expressed pride in their cultural and linguistic heritage in the Islamic world. Yet others selectively employed their “Oriental” bodies as a way to assert Zionist belonging and nativeness in Palestine. This dissertation makes three broader contributions. First, using photographs, oral histories, material culture, and written sources, it illuminates how clothing, sounds, sexuality, and age become racialized in circumstances of colonial-national conflict. Second, while scholars often point to one “year zero” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the founding of a political movement, the outbreak of ethnic violence, or the publication of a specific document, I demonstrate that building a Jewish-Arab division demanded the constant policing of how individuals looked and sounded. Finally, the dissertation’s focus on Mizrahi Jews pushes scholars of settler colonialism to think beyond a local-versus-settler paradigm. Many Mizrahi Jews in Palestine were locals who also became part of a settler movement; they were, as I term them, “local settlers.” The story of this dissertation, then, is the story of how the locals became settlers.