Transnational Radicals

Italian Anarchists in Canada and the U.S., 1915-1940


Italian anarchism emerged in the latter half of the nineteenth century, during that country’s long and bloody unification. Often facing economic hardship and political persecution, many of Italy’s anarchists migrated to North America. Wherever Italian anarchists settled they published journals, engaged in labour and political activism, and attempted to re-create the radical culture of their homeland. Transnational Radicals examines the transnational anarchist movement that existed in Canada and the United States between 1915 and 1940.

Against a backdrop of brutal and open class war—with governments calling upon militias to suppress strikes, radicals thrown in jail for publicly speaking against capitalism and the church, and those of foreign birth being deported and even executed for political activities—Italian anarchism was successfully transplanted. Transnationalism made it more difficult for states to destroy groups spread across wide geographical spaces. In Italy and abroad the strong anarchist identity informed by class, ethnicity, and gender reinforced movement values, promoted movement expansion, and assisted mobilization during times of crisis.

In Transnational Radicals, Tomchuk makes use of Italian government security files and Italian-language anarchist newspapers to reconstruct a vibrant and little-studied political movement during a tumultuous period of modern North American history.


"A groundbreaking contribution to the history of anarchism. Tomchuck brings to life the transnational networks and relationships that were at the heart of this movement among Italian migrant workers. By shedding light on the interwar period in particular, he teaches us a great deal about the continued signifiance of this movement even amid heightened and coordinated state repression."

Jennifer Guglielmo, Department of History, Smith College Massachusetts

“No previous monograph has focused on Italian migrant anarchists, and Tomchuk has made a valuable contribution to both labor history and sociology.”

R.T. Ingoglia, CHOICE

"Travis Tomchuck brings the anarchist movement in Canada and the United States to life from a transnational perspective. By shedding a nationallybound approach, Tomchuck is able to reconstruct some of the complex and influential international networks and relationships that were at the heart of the movement."

Patryk Polec, Canadian Journal of HIstory

“An important contribution to seeing the wider picture of the left in Canada, the importance of culture in the maintenance and expansion of political movements and an important contribution to the history of Anarchism in Canada and the U.S.”

Scott Price, Canadian Dimension

“Captures the entangled local and transnational history of anarchism and is likely to be an essential historical work for years to come.”

M. Montserrat Feu López, Italian American Review

“With these studies, Tomchuk and Zimmer have made significant contributions to the literature that will surely have a profound impact on the study of anarchist history going forward. I cannot recommend them strongly enough.”

Nathan Jun, Centro Altreitalie

“Although the book has a typical scholarly structure, Tomchuk has restructured what was originally a thesis and fleshed out a number of narratives and interviews into an engaging story. His straightforward, jargon-free survey of the related literature, demonstrating his broad knowledge of anarchism is one of the book’s delights.”

Steve Izma, Fifth Estate


Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title (2015)

About the Author

Travis Tomchuk is a public historian who lives and works in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - Anarchism and the Italian Tradition
Chapter 2 - Migrant Anarchists
Chapter 3 - Anarchist Culture
Chapter 4 - Anarchist Identity Formation
Chapter 5 - Factional Disputes
Chapter 6 - Deportation Struggles