Bringing Columbus Home: Buffalo Soldiers, Representation, and Transatlantic Memory of the Italian Campaign in WWII

O'Connell, Christian ORCID: 0000-0001-5546-8389 (2023) Bringing Columbus Home: Buffalo Soldiers, Representation, and Transatlantic Memory of the Italian Campaign in WWII. International History Review, 45 (6). pp. 884-902. doi:10.1080/07075332.2023.2247009

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Following victory in Europe in World War II, African American troops of the Ninety-Second Infantry Division took part in a symbolic but relatively unknown ceremony returning the ashes of Christopher Columbus to the Italian city of Genoa. This event encapsulates the complicated experiences of the ‘Buffalo’ soldiers in Italy and their legacies. While the role of this rare Black combat unit was camouflaged by the mainstream press, for African Americans the Division captivated the hopes of ‘racial uplift’ that could come via the ideals of the ‘Double Victory’ against Fascism at home and abroad. While the patriotic character of the ceremony obscured the achievements of Black combat troops, the article suggests that veterans were active in agents in shaping ‘Double V’ memories which held Black patriotism and achievement in tension with the struggles they faced as African Americans in a segregated military. Importantly, by examining the return visits to Genoa alongside oral histories, the article argues these memories had a clear transatlantic dimension, which were underpinned by ideas of ‘colorblind’ Italians. The memories worked to underline the American identity of Black soldiers while acting as long-term reminders of American racism in the War.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: African Americans; World War II; Memory; Italy; Memorialization
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2023 10:40
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 13:45

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