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This book investigates the relationship between the ideas of nation and race among the nationalist intelligentsia of the Italian Risorgimento and argues that ideas of race played a considerable role in defining Italian national identity.
The author argues that the racialization of the Italians dates back to the early Napoleonic age and that naturalistic racialism—or race-thinking based on the taxonomies of the natural history of man—emerged well before the traditionally presumed date of the late 1860s and the advent of positivist anthropology.
The book draws upon a wide number of sources including the work of Vincenzo Cuoco, Giuseppe Micali, Adriano Balbi, Alessanro Manzoni, Giandomenico Romagnosi, Cesare Balbo, Vincenzo Gioberti, and Carlo Cattaneo. Themes explored include links to antiquity on the Italian peninsula, archaeology, and race-thinking.