Mia Spizzica

Mia Spizzica has completed a PhD dissertation at Monash University in the School of Literary and Cultural Studies. Her career as an educator includes teaching at the university of Siena in Italy, Monash University, University of Melbourne, and RMIT University in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Mia is a Research Associate at Museum Victoria and the Italian Historical Society in Melbourne. Her research interests include transgenerational memory, post-colonial interpretations of dominant histories, recovering memory and story-telling through first person narrative and subaltern interpretation, archival sciences, action research with participant collaborators. Her curated collection of 15 interviews and five scholarly essays Hidden Lives: War, iInternment, and Australian Italians is the first in a series of planned publications on subaltern experiences, especially during wartime in Australia and elsewhere.


Dr David Reiter introduces Hidden Lives at the 2018 IP Brisbane Gala

Mia on Facebook

Mia's LinkedIn page

Mia's article in Il Globo

The Conversation Interview (2011)

The Conversation Interview (2012)


from The Introduction

During the first four decades of the 20th century, increasing numbers of Italians migrated to Australia. It was viewed as a distant British Dominion that offered bountiful opportunities for energetic, forward-looking migrants who sought to build an economically secure future for themselves and their families. Yet, the aspirations of many migrants were shattered by the economic consequences of the Great Depression in the 1930s, followed by World War II (WWII) from 1939 to 1945. When Italy declared war on 10 June 1940 on Britain and France, its alliance with the British Empire during the Great War dissolved into a distant memory. This all-out conflict between Britain, its allies, and the key Axis nations, Germany, Italy, and Japan, changed the economic and political trajectory of nations worldwide. Not only did the ravages of this world war change the physical environment, but also the fate of millions of civilians of many nations caught in the crossfire when populated areas became battlefield front lines, or as non-combatant residents in enemy nations. This conflict was to become a critical turning point for Italians migrants living in Australia, other British dominions, and in allied nations. In an instant, Italians living in allied nations had become enemy aliens. Their experiences have rarely been mentioned in mainstream Australian histories.

This collection of five research essays, and memories of fifteen Italian Australians, offers new insights into the deeply personal experiences of people whose families witnessed WWII in Australia. It is the first such compilation by authors originating from northern, central and Southern Italian provinces, and from five Australian States – Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Although each story is a unique eyewitness account, authors share many Italian cultural values, language, history, and a profound sense of Italianness – italianità.

While official histories of Italian internment in Australia present one version of the home front war story, the narratives in this anthology offers an Italian Australian perspective. The testimonies rely primarily on recollections of events that occurred more than seventy years ago, which have been corroborated by primary sources that establish the authenticity of each story. Theirs are memories of anguish and hard times, similar to millions of other human beings who have experienced wars throughout the millennia. These unique wartime narratives shed new light on the lived experiences of Italians who were interned in Australia. To understand why wartime internment is such an important issue for the authors in this collection, it is framed with an overview of the historical backdrop of war between the Axis alliance and the British Empire, and the social and political environment on the Australian home front.

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