Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice



First Advisor or Mentor

Valerie West

Second Reader

David Green


The current study examines Italian laws and policies around migratory movements since Italy first became a modern nation state in 1861 up until April 2019, when the research was concluded. This paper is a case study of Italian migratory policies. It first looks at the way Italy’s early efforts at nation building coincided with the mass emigration of its citizens, informing its policies on emigration and colonial expansion. The study then analyzes the way in which Italy developed a policy response to the growing immigrant and refugee population in the late 1980s following geo-political transformations in Europe. The evolution of Italy’s reactive immigration laws, which went from addressing the presence of foreigners as a temporary labor necessity to a more permanent political phenomenon, stemmed from its ambitions at situating itself as a founding member of the European Union. The thesis grapples with the fact that although Italy’s current response to the European migrant crisis has invited controversy for its seemingly restrictive and punitive measures, its response is part of a larger historical continuum, in which Italy’s socio-legal infrastructure reflects its attempt to define a national identity in opposition to demographic panic.



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