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Récits de migration : trajectoires individuelles familiales

Migration across three continents : the d’Angelis family

Migration, memory and identity
La famille d’Angelis : une migration sur trois continents. Migration, mémoire et identité
Antonella Viola

Résumés

migration, identity, memory

Le présent article traite de la famille D’Angelis, une famille italienne dont l’histoire a été marquée par une migration prolongée et atypique. L’objectif de notre article est de mettre en évidence les rapports entre la migration, en tant qu’expérience individuelle et collective, la mémoire et la formation d’une identité culturelle profondément influencée par les origines italiennes des ancêtres de cette famille. Bon nombre des membres de cette famille ont élaboré une mémoire familiale, une mémoire qui s’inspire tant d’éléments réels que fictifs, reconstruisant ainsi la longue migration vécue par leur famille. Cette mémoire familiale s’est construite à partir de souvenirs individuels, des éléments dérivés du passé de la famille qui ont été réélaborés selon des besoins individuels spécifiques à chacun. Cette mémoire familiale a contribué à la formation d’une identité culturelle qui considère l’italianité comme une caractéristique importante et distinctive de l’expérience migratoire de cette famille. À travers l’analyse de l’expérience de la famille D’Angelis, cet article met en lumière les manières dont cette famille vit et interprète sa propre expérience migratoire au travers du tamis de la mémoire et de la construction de modèles identitaires personnels.

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  • 1  “My dear Berta, I invited you to come to Peru and live here, have you prepared the documents for y (...)

Mi querida Berta, (…) te he convidado para venir a vivir en el Perù, has hecho las diligencias para tu passaporte ? Tienes que tener passaporte chileno, es mas facil de obtener, siendo que tu eres casada con Chileno, has vivido toda la vida en Chile y tus hijos son chilenos. Los americanos nunca han hecho algo para ti (...)1.

  • 2  The term ‘multicultural’ has been used in this context to indicate a family whose members had diff (...)

1In 1958 Bertha D’Angelis Grose was invited by her father to live with him in Peru, where he had settled for a while, but she needed a passport to go from Santiago de Chile to Lima. Bertha was born in the U.S. to a British mother, Adela Grose Jenkings, and a French-born Irish-Italian father, Louis D’Angelis, but spent most of her life in Chile. She was married to an Anglo-Chilean man and had three children who were born and raised in Chile. Where did Bertha belong ? Officially she was a U.S. citizen -and in spite of her father’s skepticism about Americans she got a U.S. passport- but grew up speaking Spanish in a country that hosted her multicultural2, migrant family from the early 1920s onward. Bertha was born into a family that had travelled across three continents, moving from one place to another. At least initially, her family’s migration was dictated by entrepreneurial and economic reasons. Giacomo D’Angelis – Bertha’s Italian grandfather - was a middle-class, educated man who moved to India where he swelled the ranks of Italian traders and entrepreneurs already settled in the country. Business was the main reason for migration to India, while emigration to South America was mostly determined by the character and expectations of Giacomo’s son, Louis D’Angelis.

2By hindsight, the D’Angelis family’s migration is rather exceptional and makes it difficult to place the family within a specific category of migrants. The D’Angelis seem to resist any attempt to place them within a specific typological framework, making it extremely hard to compare their atypical migration and the multiple experiences that emerged from it to those of other migrants, who left Italy in the second half of the 19th century (see Tirabissi, 2005 ; Bevilacqua, De Clementi and Franzina, 2002 ; Saija, 2003). Since the beginning, their migration was characterized by a rather unconventional geographic trajectory and a variegate cultural heritage deriving from the significant number of mixed-marriages contracted by family members. Bertha, and her sister and brother were the offspring of a family whose history spanned many countries and many cultures. The history of Bertha’s family is at the core of this study, which explores the interconnected issues of migration, memory and the construction of variable cultural identities within a migrant family characterized by a mixed cultural heritage. One aspect is particularly intriguing in the history of the D’Angelis family : the gradual process of recovery and re-appropriation of the Italian identity started by the fourth generation. Some family members, who were born and raised in South America, have rediscovered and claimed their own Italianness through fascinating and unexpected individual practices of construing their past as migrants, and re-elaborating their own cultural identity. In spite of the very remote connection with Italy, the fourth generation displays a special emotional attachment to the family’s Italian origin and feels particularly close to Italian culture. By claiming their own Italianness, living members of the D’Angelis family express a gamut of sentiments about their Italian ancestry, which are based on a complex and creative mix of fictive and real elements, whose interplay shows how migrants can remember migration and form their cultural identity through alternative patterns grounded in individual psychological and emotional needs. The figure of Giacomo D’Angelis is central to the process of re-appropriation of the family’s Italian identity. The reconstruction of Giacomo’s life and activities contributed significantly to the recovery and acceptance of Italianness within the family. In India Giacomo was a successful entrepreneur and for some family members this was a source of pride and a positive element in accepting their Italian origin.

  • 3  Most of the sources used in this study have been generously made available by J.D. D’Angelis, whos (...)

3The exploration of the D’Angelis family history has been conducted by employing a wide-range of private sources. Family papers and material objects of different kind –photographs, family relics and so forth- have been used to trace back the family’s migratory trajectories and tackle how migration has been experienced, remembered, and re-interpreted. When documentation proved inadequate, interviews with living members of the family added complementary information and provided further material to reconstruct the family history3. When approaching migration to India, which had an enormous influence in shaping the second generation’s attitudes and identity, other types of archival sources have also been used to complement the information provided by private papers.

From Italy to India : Giacomo D’Angelis

  • 4  The original surname was De Angelis, but when the family moved to India it was misspelled as D’Ang (...)

4The prolonged and unusual migration of the D’Angelis family began in the second half of the 19th century when Giacomo D’Angelis4 decided to move to India, where he worked as a confectioner and caterer, taking advantage of the good reputation that Italians had gained in the country as confectioners, cooks and hotel managers. Giacomo Maria De Angelis was born in Messina (Sicily) in 1844 to a middle-class family (The birth certificate of Giacomo D’ Angelis, Stato Civile del Comune di Messina, vol. 133, 1844, State Archive of Messina, Italy). His father, Francesco De Angelis, owned a bookshop and his mother, Anna Grillo, was a housewife. Information about Giacomo’s childhood and adolescence is scant. But we know that he attended high-school (liceo) and in 1864 travelled to France to be trained as a confectioner.

  • 5  According to information provided by the family, Francesco D’Angelis suffered from an unknown illn (...)
  • 6  The birth of Louis D’Angelis was registered in the town-hall of Fontenay-Sous-Bois; We learn from (...)

5In 1875, when the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos was appointed Governor of the Madras Presidency, Giacomo -who was the Duke’s confectioner- moved to India and settled in Madras. In India, he married an Irish woman, Esther Jane Wilme (Giacomo D’Angelis & Esther Jane Wilme Marriage certificate, Coonoor 16th October 1880, Returns of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1698-1969, Madras N/2,OIOC, BL). The couple had six children, Francesco5, Carlo Umberto, Marianna Elise, Louis, Giacomo e Anne Violet. With the exception of Louis, who was born in France6, and Francesco, whose place of birth is currently unknown, all Giacomo’s children were born in Madras. Giacomo e Anne Violet died few months after their birth.

  • 7  Before the Government of India Act , passed by the British Parliament in 1858, India was under the (...)
  • 8  “Confectioner is a typically Italian profession”. Gli italiani nella Presidenza di Bombay, Rapport (...)
  • 9  Gli Italiani in India’, La Stampa, 27 Ottobre 1927.

6In Madras Giacomo launched his new business : a confectionary shop called Maison Française, that specialized in French and Italian cakes, pastries and chocolate. Italian confectioners, known among European settlers in India as excellent caterers and confectioners, belonged to a little studied migrant minority of traders and entrepreneurs who moved to India to launch new business activities. By the 1860s, in the wake of other Europeans, a growing number of Italians began to establish themselves in major Indian cities7. Italians usually worked in the import-export sector, handling the importation of Italian products into India and the exportation of Indian products to Italy. Some specialized in trading specific products such as coral, for instance, which was in great demand in South Asia. Others ran small or medium enterprises, which served as the branch-offices of companies headquartered in Italy. The major goal of these Italians was to seize the opportunities that the Indian market offered. Moreover, they hoped, through their business activities, to strengthen the trading relations between their home country and India by promoting and spreading the consumption of Italian products. They were the first promoters of ‘made in Italy’ products, some of which were already known and consumed in India. A relatively significant portion of the Italian products that were exported to India was foodstuffs, and the business of food was for many Italians a profitable and thriving activity. Some made huge fortunes in India, primarily as caterers and confectioners. In 1905 the Italian consul in Bombay, Giovanni Gorio, reported that “una professione caratteristica, tipicamente italiana è quella di pasticciere, diffusa ormai in tutta l’India”8. La Stampa, an Italian newspaper, in an article devoted to Italian entrepreneurial migration to India, defined this very specific category of migrants as pioneers of Italianess : “ essi formano in India rari pioneri di italianità”9.

  • 10  Federico Peliti (Carignano 1844-1914) was also a very well-known photographer, and a collection of (...)
  • 11  Italian food was in general quite expensive, and thus was destined to well-off Europeans and upper (...)

7The initiator of the Italian confectionary in India was Federico Peliti, renowned in late 19th century Calcutta10. Peliti was a manufacturing confectioner who made Italian food extremely fashionable in India. He arrived in South Asia in 1869 as the official caterer of Lord Mayo, the then British Viceroy, and his entourage. When the latter was murdered, Peliti settled in Calcutta where he set up his own business by launching a confectionary shop in Bentinck Street, not far away from Esplanade Row. As the business thrived successfully, Peliti moved to a better location in Esplanade East, where a new glamorous shop with a tea-room was opened in 1881. In 1907, when Peliti’s sons had already stepped into their father’s business, a restaurant adjacent to the confectionary shop was open. In the beginning Italian cuisine went hand in hand with French gastronomy, at that time better known and more appreciated among Europeans in India. By the end of the 19th century, due to the passionate and intense activity of Italian confectioners and cooks, pasta (macaroni), salumi, preserves, sauces and ice creams were growingly appreciated in India11.

  • 12  A quick look at the few surviving copies of the menus gives us an idea of the meals served at the (...)

8In many respects, Giacomo D’Angelis was in Madras what Federico Peliti was in Calcutta. Like Peliti, Giacomo combined French and Italian cuisine12, and he quickly became well-known in Southern India for his culinary skills. His great success made his financial foundations solid, and he widened his activities by opening a small hotel that soon became one of the most renowned hotels in Madras.

  • 13  “In Madras the stable Italian colony is represented only by Mr G. D’Angelis, owner of a confection (...)

9The D’Angelis Hotel was a fashionable place, equipped with all the luxuries then available, including the first electrical lift, electric fans, and an ice-making plant and hot water on tap. The hotel was surrounded by the Italian Gardens. Apart from the confectionary shop and the hotel, Giacomo also run under a management contract a hotel- the Sylk’s Hotel- in Ootacamund the popular British resort in the Nilgiri Hills. He eventually purchased and refurbished the hotel in Ooty and turned over its management to Aldo Palazzo. Interviewed in 1895 by Lanzoni and Fries (Italian commercial agents in mission on behalf of the Museo Commerciale di Venezia) about his business and life in South India, Giacomo declared himself to be the only Italian entrepreneur working in town : “A Madras la colonia italiana stabile non è rappresentata che dal Sig. G. D’Angelis proprietario di una grande pasticceria in quella città, e d’un albergo ad Ootacamund”13.

Indian years : The D’Angelis in Madras

10When Giacomo settled in Madras, he probably found himself in the same position in which many other Italians had found themselves before : neither colonizers nor colonized, Italian economic operators worked in the intersectional space left to minor traders and entrepreneurs in the Indian market. Italians never considered India a ‘final destination’ ; but simply regarded it as a land that offered certain business opportunities. India was a difficult place and few Italians lived there permanently (Viola, 2008). Italians always considered the Indian subcontinent as una frontiera commerciale, a new commercial frontier, a place which offered new and appealing economic and commercial opportunities for widening their business. This explains why the majority of Italians never settled in India permanently, and went back home at the age of retirement, or even earlier, handing over their business to younger members of the family or relatives-in-law. The fact that in most cases Italians kept their families at home in Italy further confirms that they perceived their stay in India as temporary. Younger generations who succeeded their fathers in the management of the business in India usually grew up, studied or were trained in Italy.

  • 14  Research in the Indian registers has brought to light several records about mixed- marriages betwe (...)

11A remarkable exception was represented by those who married non-Italian women in India. The imbalanced sex ratio -the number of Italian women was always relatively low compared to that of men- among the Italian communities in Calcutta and Bombay (Madras never had a significant population of Italians) favored mixed-marriages14. Robert F. Harney has defined Italian migrant workers in North America as ‘men without women’ (Harney, 1978, 79-101). Like those who emigrated to America, Italian traders and entrepreneurs in India lived in an environment where Italian women were virtually absent. Those who were not married at the time when they moved to India were left with two options when looking for a wife : to return to Italy in order to get married, or marry a non-Italian woman in India. But even Italians who contracted mixed-marriages in India used to take their ‘Indian’ families with them back to Italy when they retired. And the few Italian children who were born in India were sent to Italy to receive an adequate Italian education. The links with Italy were always overwhelmingly strong. The core of the economic activities that Italians carried out was located in Italy, where the largest share of the profits made in India was usually reinvested. But Italy was not simply a mere recipient of profits made elsewhere or a faraway ‘homeland’, which Italians nostalgically dreamt of when working in the merciless sun of India. For those well-off, educated, temporary migrants Italy was a constant point of reference ; migration to India was a choice that never severed the links Italians had with their home country. They used to travel to Italy quite often and this continuous ‘going back home’ reinforced family, social and economic relationships with their place of origin. Therefore, the cultural, linguistic and emotional bonds with Italy were always maintained. Although the cultural and national identity of Italians was already well formed when they arrived in India, the encounter with the colonial context and its twofold ‘otherness’, that of the British and that of Indians, inevitably changed things ; Italians therefore began to develop a slightly different attitude towards themselves and their national identity, constructing and using models of self-representation which valued certain distinctive aspects of their culture such as food, for instance.

12Integration into the social environment of colonial India posed no problems to Italians. Like other middle and upper-class Europeans, they enjoyed the privileges reserved to ‘white’ settlers in colonial settings. Italians in India, in fact, had better experiences than their countrymen who migrated to other parts of the world. A comparison in this sense would not be helpful given the lack of major problems of socialization, and adaptation. In India, Italians mixed socially with other Europeans, playing the same sort of life that many other Europeans did (Cohn, 1987 ; Hockings, 1989 ; Kincaird, 1938 ; Chandra Ghosh, 1970). The patterns of sociality and integration in the host society, as attested from different sources, show that Italians used to associate themselves with other European settlers, establishing a wide range of social relations. The spectrum of those relations was very broad and hints that Italians managed to incorporate themselves in the social fabric of the Indian cities in which they lived and worked. As far as social integration was concerned, the experience of Italian migrants in South Asia suggests that they were fully integrated within the British-dominated colonial society ; but integration was not synonymous with assimilation. Italians retained, however, a certain number of typical cultural features that differentiated them from other Europeans living in the Indian colonial context.

13When looking at the experiences of Giacomo D’Angelis and his family, it is immediately clear that they did not fit well in the picture drawn above. The way they experienced migration and their life in the colonial context highly differ from that of other Italians in India. The reasons for such divergence are multiple ; some are clear, some others remain hidden or difficult to grasp. The lack of sources on some significant aspects of the family’s private life –better known is the public side of their experience in India- is a major roadblock when it comes to investigate what made the D’Angelis family different from other Italians in India.

14During the years Giacomo and his family spent in South Asia, he apparently maintained loose links with his family in Italy. There are no letters which can attest that he was in contact with his Sicilian family. The virtual absence of family bonds appears rather atypical if compared with the marked tendency of keeping very strong ties with their mother-country displayed by other Italians. Even when Italian men married non-Italian women, within the family an Italian identity was always conveyed to children and preserved with special attention. Transmission of an Italian identity was also linked to the fact that children were meant, once grown up, to take care of the family business, whose core was usually located in Italy, and therefore they were expected to be familiar with their father’s home-country, language and culture.

  • 15  In a letter addressed to her daughter Bertha, Louis said that she could write to her aunt Marianna (...)
  • 16  Photo of Giacomo D’Angelis in Algiers in 1919, D’Angelis Family Private Archive. Some decades late (...)

15Within the D’Angelis family, the absence of direct links with Italy and Italian culture led to an apparent abrupt loss of Italian identity, which was only partially preserved through food habits. Additionally, Giacomo’s personality might have played an important role in favoring the loss of a strong and detectable Italianness in his children. He was a multilingual and highly cosmopolitan man ; he spoke fluently Italian, French and English, liked traveling and always felt at ease in an international environment. Giacomo’s character, the colonial context and the diverse origins of their parents must have greatly influenced the construction of identity in the second generation. Giacomo’s children did not receive an Italian education and did not form any strong sense of belonging to a faraway country they never really knew. Marianna, Louis and Carlo received mostly a French and an English education, and were raised as Protestants. In spite of their English-French education, they learned to speak Italian as testified to by a letter written by Louis D’Angelis15. However, there is no further evidence that they used to speak their father’s native language in everyday life. On the contrary, there are many elements which suggest that Giacomo preferred to speak English to his children. A very good example of how English had become the main language within the family is given by a picture sent by Giacomo to his son Louis. The photograph was taken in Algiers during Giacomo’s vacations and contains few lines in English written by Giacomo himself16. Also the letters which Giacomo’s children exchanged over the years were all written in English, as the correspondence between Louis and Marianna confirms. An interesting element in this familiar epistolary is the recurrent use of words coming from the Indian cultural context, such as salaams, which they always use to greet each other.

16The fact that Giacomo’s wife was a native English speaker and the long permanence in a country where English was the main language of the European minority were crucial factors in the definitive dismissal of the Italian language as the language of family intimacy. The relegation of Italian to a third-class tool of communication, well after English and French, went hand in hand with a process of loss of any specific and recognizable Italian identity. The importance of language in conveying cultural identity is vital. Production, preservation and reproduction of ethnic, national or cultural identities are often conveyed through language. “A consistent theme within studies of national identity over the last four decades has been the central importance of language in its formation”(Joseph, 1988, 94). If it is true that linguistic identity is crucial to the formation of group identities broadly understood, in mixed-nationality migrant families within which parents have two different mother tongues, there is sometimes the tendency, as in the case of the D’Angelis family, to separate identity and language and re-build the former along rather peculiar patterns.

  • 17  In Madras Giacomo D’Angelis was later popularly known as the Flying Corsican. He was a pioneer of (...)
  • 18  23Marianna D’Angelis married three times. Her first husband was Aldo Palazzo. Her second husband w (...)
  • 19  The date and place of Giacomo D’Angelis’ death are unknown.
  • 20  Carlo D’Angelis died of drowning while hunting in India. No precise information is known about the (...)

17Given the lack of substantial documentations, it is difficult to speculate about how Giacomo’s children perceived themselves, and if they felt attached to their Italian origin. Most probably, migration to France and India must have favored, in the second generation, the formation of a mixed, ‘open’ identity which was not confined within the narrow borders of one language and one culture. However, French culture seems to have had a strong influence on Giacomo’s children, especially Louis who was a ‘true Frenchman’ according to the memories of his grandson, Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis. Giacomo’s public image in India was also linked to France. In fact, he was considered by many to be French, more precisely Corsican17. The circumstances of the misunderstanding about Giacomo’s true nationality are not clear, perhaps it was due to the fact that he had arrived in India from France. The only family member who continued to have some relations with Italian culture and Italy was Marianna who married an Italian man, Aldo Palazzo, and emigrated to India to work as a hotel manager. He was the manager of the Sylk’s Hotel in Ooty and was much younger than Marianna18. In spite of Giacomo’s opposition, the couple married in 1920(Returns of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1698-1969, N/2/128 f.102 , Madras Presidency, OIOC, BL.). Marianna, along with Carlo, stayed in India actively helping her father running the hotel in Madras. Later on she managed the Sylk’s Hotel. When Giacomo died19, she was the only one who continued her father’s business after the premature death of Carlo20 and the departure of Louis ; Marianna left the country in 1965 after selling her properties and settled in London. Neither Marianna nor Carlo had children.

To the other side of the world : D’Angelis family in South America

18It was due to the passion for travels of Giacomo’s youngest child, Louis, that the D’Angelis family moved to the Americas. Louis D’Angelis did not spend much of his adult life in India ; he inherited his father love for travels and during his life moved from one country to another. Given the solid financial situation of his family, Louis had a comfortable life without much effort : he never had a fixed job and worked only occasionally. In the 1910s he went to Mexico, and met Adela who soon became his wife. Adela Grose Jenkings was born in London in 1889(Certificate issued by the British Embassy, Consular Section, Santiago, Chile, 5 Nov. 1957. D’Angelis Family Private Archive) and had emigrated to Mexico for reasons which are unclear. She had had a son from a previous relationship with a Mexican man and had been living in Mexico for some years before she married Louis. Soon after the marriage the couple moved to New York where their daughters, Dora and Bertha D’Angelis Grose, were born in 1919 and 1920 respectively. While Adela was staying with their children in New York, Louis kept travelling until when he decided to settle in Chile. In 1922 Adela moved to Chile where Louis had in the meantime bought a new house. The family settled in Santiago where their son Carlos was born in 1923.

  • 21  “My grandfather bought a three-patios house and some coventillos (in South America the word conven (...)

Mi abuelo Louis se comprò una casa colonial de tres patios en la calle Lira altura del 300, y tambien comprò tres conventillos de renta en un barrio de los extramuros, que se llamaba ‘La Pila Del Ganso’ y un automovil Ford de los primeros que circulaban en Santiago21.

  • 22  “One of the first things I remember is that when the Second World War was at its height, my grandm (...)

19In Santiago, Adela worked as a private English teacher for well-off families, while Louis continued to travel very often as testified to by the letters he sent to his family from Peru and Argentina. Once in Chile, the D’Angelis swelled the ranks of the countless number of immigrants who lived in the country. The melting pot of Chilean society between the two World Wars is humorously recalled by Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis : “ Lo primero que me acuerdo era que estaba en pleno apogeo la segunda guerra Mundial, mi abuela (Adela) tenia una vecina en la casa de abajo que era de nacionalidad Alemana, y las peleas, entre mi abuela inglesa y la Sra Whillemina la alemana, eran descomunales (...)”22.

  • 23  “Mi abuela Adela hablaba preferentemente español con sus hijos. Yo me acuerdo que ella hablaba el (...)

20When approaching the D’Angelis migration to Chile and their experience as immigrants, language and its use within the family can be used, once again, as an useful criterion to measure a large number of phenomena : the degree of integration in the host society ; the transmission of national and cultural identities from parents to children or the formation of a totally new identity in the third generation. Once settled in Chile, the D’Angelis began to use English and Spanish interchangeably, with the latter as the main tool for private as well as public communication. This is a very interesting aspect which deserves close attention. Louis and Adela were both native English speakers, but they soon replaced their mother tongue, at least partially, with the new one they had learned while living in Mexico. According to their grandchildren’s memories, they used to talk to each other in English and Spanish often mixing the two languages. When talking to their children they used prevalently Spanish, although Adela spoke some simple sentences and basic words in English to her grandchildren. As remembered by Jefferis, Adela used many Mexican-Spanish expressions23. Spanish soon became the preferred language within the family and even the correspondence exchanged between Adela and Louis, when they separated, was also written in Spanish (Correspondence between Louis D’Angelis and Adela Grose, D’Angelis Family Private Archive). The letters which Louis used write to his children were also in Spanish (Correspondence between Louis D’Angelis and his daughter Bertha, 1943-1961, D’Angelis Family Private Archive). Therefore, the third generation grew up monolingual and learned only few words in English. The replacement of the English language with Spanish within one generation is quite striking. One would have expected Adela and Louis to speak English to their children or at least to keep a balance between the two languages. Contrary to any expectation, Dora, Bertha and Carlos never spoke English. It is hard to find an explanation for the linguistic choice made by Louis and Adela ; the years the couple had spent in Mexico, where they became acquainted with the Spanish language, and probably developed an emotional attachment to it, must have been a crucial watershed. The fact that they did not feel the need to transmit their mother tongue to their children might also suggest that to a certain extent they already considered themselves as part of the country in which they had settled. In the case of Louis -cosmopolitan, multilingual and with a complex and rather unusual background- one might argue that he did not have a clear-cut and well-defined identity confined to a specific culture or language, so he was probably not concerned with the transmission of a precise identity to his children. But for Adela things must have been different. She was British and had arrived in Mexico directly from London and if compared to her husband, Louis, she surely had a more solid and certainly better defined national and cultural identity. Her experiences in Mexico must have had a very strong impact on her personality and manners, but some family’s private records suggest that she still thought of herself as British. In spite of her cultural identity, Adela made an uncommon linguistic choice within the family and raised her children as native-Spanish speakers. There are no family records which can help explain why Adela opted for Spanish, and the living members of the family, when interviewed, were unable to provide any explanation or suggestion on the matter. Most probably she also wanted her children to be fully integrated in the new country and knew that a good command of the local language was a powerful tool of integration.

21With Spanish as the main language within the family, English was relegated to the sphere of written communication and was prevalently used to communicate with relatives in India. Marianna D’Angelis used to write in English to her brother Louis and to her sister-in-law Adela as well as Bertha and Dora. “Unfortunately I do not Spanish, so I must write to you in English”, wrote Marianna in a letter to her niece Bertha in 1945(Letter from Marianna D’Angelis to Bertha D’Angelis Grose, 19th Feb. 1945, D’Angelis Family Private Archive).

  • 24  “The only thing I do know is that Marianna’s father was Italian (Sicilian) and her mother Irish”. (...)

22In spite of their mixed-origin and the high cosmopolitan personality and multilingualism of their father, the third generation of the D’Angelis family was raised in a monolingual environment and grew attached to the new home country. Chilean culture and society provided the ground for the development of a one-dimensional identity which to a certain extent overshadowed the multiplicity and complexity of the family’s origins. Within the third generation, the forging of an individual identity that was more influenced by the local culture than by the complex ethnic and cultural heritage of the family affected the preservation and transmission of memories about their Italian origin. Louis D’Angelis, on his side use to remind his children of their relatives in India, but does not seem to have preserved any specific memory linked to Italy or Italian culture. Memories about the family’s Italian origin were not properly conveyed to the new generation and this seems to find confirmation in a letter written by Mr. F. Penn who explained to Bertha D’Angelis Grose that Giacomo was an Italian man from Sicily24. In the same letter he also clarified the fact that Giacomo’s wife was Irish. Interestingly enough, the memory of the family’s Irish origin was also lost over the years. The oblivion of the family’s origins, though apparently surprising, is to be ascribed to the long and atypical migration as well as to Louis’ personality. But there were also objective difficulties in connecting the family’s colonial past to the origins of Giacomo and Esther. Moreover, emigration to France must have further disrupted the linearity of memories about the family’s origin. Links with Italian culture were fully re-established only by the fourth generation, while the third generation successfully rooted itself in Chilean society and culture which provided the basis for the construction of a new, ‘native’ identity.

Recovering Italianness : memories, identity and self-perception in the fourth generation

23The loss of a specific and detectable Italian identity in the second and third generations that never went to Italy nor maintained family ties with Italian relatives, was counter-balanced by a process of gradual recovery of Italianness. Giacomo’s great-grandchildren, who were born in Chile and Argentina, gradually re-discovered their Italian identity and embraced it with much enthusiasm. As a consequence of the family’s exceptional migration and its mixed cultural heritage, the preservation and reproduction of memories linked to a specific country or culture was rather uneven. Therefore, the recovery of the family’s past and the creation of memories which could be preserved and conveyed to younger generations went also through a process of material recovery of objects –such as letters, images, photographs- and genealogical and historical investigation. The recovery of an ethnic and cultural origin required not only the commitment to find evidence of a remote past of which none of the living family members had memory, but the willingness to reconstruct the past and mold it often according to individual emotional and psychological patterns. Although conducted with genuine intentions and purely genealogical interests, this process resulted in a re-invention and re-definition of cultural identity in the fourth generation. The new reinvented identity mainly fits an emotional need for roots which mirrors, in turn, the present attitudes, character and sentiments of most family members.

  • 25  Jefferis’ father was Donald Jefferis Jack Evans Angel, born in 1916 to a British father, Arthur Th (...)

24When asked about how he perceives himself, and which relationship he has with his Italian origin ,and what he think of his great grandfather, Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis stated that he really values his Italian descent, considering himself mostly Chilean and Italian. This statement coming from a person who has a clear British ethnic background (his maternal grandmother was British, his paternal grandfather was British and his father25 and his mother were both half-British) sounds hard to understand and even appears slightly ‘odd’. Why does a man who was born and raised in Chile with only a remote link with Italy describe himself as half Chilean and half Italian ? The answer to this question is not easy and requires an analysis of the different levels of construction of individual identity within the family. First of all, it is necessary to focus on the agency that family members displayed in remembering and forging their own past and origin. Memory as a socially motivated cognitive process that helps to shape and highly influences the construction of individual and collective identity is at the core of the recovery and re-elaboration of an ethnic or cultural identity. Individuals build the scaffoldings of their emotional past by using a wide range of true and fictive recollections (Neisser and Fivush, 1994, 1-18). Those recollections have different origins and come from disparate experiences. The construction of identity- in this case a cultural identity deriving from a remote origin with which the individual identifies himself or herself and which he or she employs as a tool for self-representation- owes much to the dynamic between fictive and true recollections, between family and autobiographical memories created to respond to certain emotional needs of self-identification (Neisser and Fivush, 1994, 105-135).

25Furthermore the material recovery of a distant and almost forgotten past testified to by a wide range of objects belonged to the private and public life of the family and the gathering of information about Giacomo’s activities in India added vital lymph to the re-interpretation and re-appropriation of Italianness in the fourth generation. Collecting information from different sources was not a neutral process, it was a highly individual filtering of the family’s past based on the personal sentiments and expectations of the family’s living members. It is precisely in this process of filtering through the sieve of their own individualities that family members exert their entire agency as ‘remembering selves’. As Doris Lessing acutely put it in her autobiography ‘we make up our past. You can actually watch your mind doing it, taking a little fragment of fact and then spinning a tale out of it’ (Lessing, 1994, 13). Not everyone possesses Lessing’s acuteness for consciously seeing at work the mental and emotional processes which lead to the production of memories, but certainly everyone contributes to shaping his or her own memories according to individual patterns.

  • 26  “Bueno la respuesta es difícil, yo diria que mitad y mitad porque naturalmente también el hecho de (...)

26The interaction between different elements – personal and family memories, material evidence of the past, experience and expectations of living members of the D’Angelis family among others- in the re-appropriation of an ethnic and cultural identity appears crucial if we consider that ethnicity and culture are reinvented and reinterpreted in each generation by each individual (Fischer, 1986, 194-233 ; Sollors, 1989, ix-xx). The process of reinvention becomes even more powerful when individuals can choose between two or more ethnic and cultural origins. In fact, the capacity of each individual within the D’Angelis family to choose or prefer one origin over another must be considered. It is clear that some members of the D’Angelis family, such as Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis and Julio Guillermo Menadier D’Angelis (the son of Dora D’Angelis Grose) have a marked preference for their Italian origin. The latter, when asked how he perceived himself and what relationship he had with his Italian origin gave an answer similar to that given by his cousin Jefferis. Julio said he felt half Italian and half Chilean. He also points out that sometimes it is hard to deal with this ambivalent sense of belonging ; he feels he is part of two countries and two cultures at the same time26. Both Jefferis and Julio displayed in the interviews a rather marked tendency to identify themselves with Italian culture, which they also consider closer to their sensibility and personality. In this process of identification they operate a selection, picking one part of their mixed ethnic and cultural heritage, giving it a new, dominant status. W. Sollors has effectively explained the capacity of each individual to make choices about his or her ethnic origin, defining ethnicity not simply as the consequence of kinship, but as a concept that requires ‘consent’ (Sollors, 1986, 3-19) Consent certainly implies the individual’s subscription to cultural values and ideas regarding an ethnic or national group. For instance it is clear that many members of the D’Angelis family subscribed to a certain view of Italianness and Italian culture with which they identify and which they admire and value. Unfortunately, most of the features and images which are employed in the external portrayal of certain national or ethnic groups are amply stereotypical. When it comes to dealing with Italianness clichés about the Italian national character are countless. Some views about Italy and its people are the product of foreign perception and investigation into Italian social, cultural and economic life, but they have gradually been adopted, through a process of internalization, by Italians themselves. Others are the result of the nation-building process, and the domestic cultural and social tensions which have been projected outside and have become part of the image of Italy and Italians abroad. This dynamic of interaction between domestically and externally produced images, whose fictive component is crucial, leads to the creation of multiple categories of stereotypes, which are believed to embody and represent Italianness. Given the lack of homogeneity in the Italian national identity (Cerroni, 2000 ; Galli Della Loggia, 1998 ; Ascoli and Von Henneberg, 2001 ; Bedani and Haddock, 2000) and the strong role of regionalism and localism in shaping identity within the Italian context, categories of stereotypes multiply accordingly.

27In their recovery and re-appropriation of the Italian origin, the D’Angelis family is not immune to stereotypes. Some of their ideas about Italianness, for instance, are often affected by a number of already well-established clichés about Italian lifestyle, which often seem based on food (possibly good), football, and art. Moreover some peculiar cultural aspects, such as the alleged intrinsic ‘goodness’ and cheerfulness of Italy’s inhabitants, have become a sort of leitmotif recurrently employed to describe Italians. However, the influence of stereotypes in the process of re-elaboration and re-appropriation of Italianness by the D’Angelis family was mostly due to the physical and cultural proximity of communities of Italian migrants, with whom many family members had contact. The fourth generation of the D’Angelis family experienced Italianness in many indirect ways, through school and by mixing with Italian migrants in South America. The social and cultural environment in which the fourth generation lived was particularly favorable to the recovery of an Italian cultural identity, due to the large presence of Italian immigrants. South America has been one of the main destinations of Italian emigration since the nineteenth century, and the presence of Italian communities is remarkable.

  • 27  In order to get a more precise idea of La Boca and its inhabitants see Bucich, Juan Antonio, El ba (...)
  • 28  “At every corner Italian language (in general Italian dialects) was spoken. I loved to listen to o (...)

28In 1949, when he was a teenager, Jefferis spent some years in Buenos Aires, living with his maternal uncle, Carlos D’Angelis. His uncle’s family lived in Barrio La Boca, which was an Italian neighborhood27. According to Jefferis, he was surrounded by Italians or people of Italian descent. When interviewed about the years he spent in Buenos Aires, he said that he liked to hang around in the barrio and listen to old Italian people speaking their dialects : “ En cada esquina se hablaba italiano (generalmente dialectos), a mi me encantaba oir a los tanos viejos hablar sus dialectos, mientras mascaban tabaco y escupian por el costado de la boca o fumaban los entonces famosos toscanos. Yo vivi cinco años de mi vida en ese ambiente maravilloso”28.

  • 29  Scholarly works on Italian emigration to Argentina and Buenos Aires are numerous. For a general ap (...)
  • 30  “Se suponia, como asi fué, que nos ibamos a sentir más cómodo donde nuestros apellidos calzaran co (...)
  • 31  Ademàs es un colegio bilingüe , por lo que se suponia y asi fuè que ibamos a salir hablando dos i (...)
  • 32  “Mi padre que era mùsico tenia gran admiración por la música , compositores , cantantes italianos (...)
  • 33  “Lo de niño no se olvida nunca, para nosotros, me refiero a me y a mis hermanos, el italiano fue n (...)

29The experience of those years in Buenos Aires and the close contacts with the large population of Italian immigrants living in the city29 had an enormous influence on Jefferis. Through relations with his neighbors and relatives who lived there, he partially experienced the life of Italian immigrants. Apart from Jefferis, other family members experienced Italian culture. The children of Dora D’Angelis Grose, for instance, attended the Italian school -Scuola Italiana Vittorio Montiglio- in Santiago. When asked about the reason why Dora and her husband chose an Italian school for their children, Julio Guillermo replied that his parents probably thought it would have been easier for them to attend a school where the other students had surnames similar to their30. Moreover, headded that his parents wanted their children to be fluent in both Spanish and Italian31. But another probable reason for choosing the Italian school was that Dora’s husband, Julio Menadier Carrasco - a musician- was very fond of Italian music which he greatly admired32. The years spent as a pupil in the Italian school had a great impact on Julio, as he himself acknowledged in the interview. Julio explained and justified his attachement to and identification with Italian culture by saying that the fact of being taught everything in Italian during eight years of his life was absolutely crucial for him33. Italian was Julio’s main language during childhood ; he and his sisters grew up feeling that Italian was their ‘mother tongue’ (Interviewwith Julio G. Menadier D’Angelis, 12th March 2010). The emotional attachment Julio showed towards the period he spent in the Italian school is revealing of how important that experience was to him. The Italian school was a crucial factor which favoured the formation of Julio’s subjective identity as an identity ‘in between’. In the past decade the recovery of information about Giacomo and its circulation with the family reinforced the process of identification with the Italian culture to which Julio and his siblings felt already particularly attached.

30The remarkable presence of Italian migrant communities throughout Latin America and attendance at an Italian school certainly acted, for some family members, as an important fillip towards the re-discovery of their Italian identity ; however the acceptance and re-appropriation of a cultural identity of which they were particularly proud, was also influenced by other factors, including the change in the international image of Italy from the Second World War onwards. In the last decades, Italy has projected abroad an image of the country and its people which has positively influenced the perception of Italianness : “the overall image of the Italian community benefited from the economic and commercial success of its mother country, especially in the highly significant sectors of the motor-car and fashion industries, cinema and design” (Sponza, 2006, 57-74).Although Sponza in his study was making specific reference to Italians in Great Britain, the benefits he mentioned were experienced by most Italian communities abroad. After the economic boom of the 1960s and rise of Italy as one of the most industrialized countries, Italian origin was no longer regarded as something to be ashamed or a negative aspect to be hidden. Gradually it became a ‘good thing’ to have Italian descent because of the progresses which the country had made(De Benedictis, 2001 ; Bartole, 1980).When talking about their Italian origin, both Jefferis and Julio show genuine feelings of positivity and pride about it. Other members of the family also consider their Italian origin as a very positive heritage, with which they partially identify and to which they cling affectionately.

31As already pointed out, the gathering of material objects belonged to the family, and to Giacomo in particular, acted as powerful catalyzing factor which contributed a stronger emotional bond. The patient and accurate collection of these objects has been especially significant because it helped understand the pathways of the family’s migration and make sense of it. More concrete, material traces of the family found unexpected solid emotional and cultural roots. By and large, the process of recovery of Giacomo’s past hints that the fourth generation was clearly in search of a coming-to-terms with family’s origins and hides a need for a cultural identity which could make sense of the family’s long migration and complex background.

32 “One thinks of identity whenever one is not sure of where one belongs” (Bauman, 1996, 19). There is little doubt that identity becomes a problem and a matter of concern or investigation to those who are not sure where they belong. Migrants, in particular, are sensitive to all issues linked to cultural identity. Prolonged migration, like in the case of the D’Angelis, certainly disrupted the sense of belonging to a specific country and a specific culture. The loss of the native language and the acquisition of the host-country’s main language are factors that powerfully contribute to derail the formation of a univocal cultural identity. As D. Kellner insightfully pointed out identity in contemporary society is continuously reconstructed and redefined (Kellner, 1992, 141-178). Within the D’Angelis family identity changed, was discovered, and re-invented over time according to variable needs, individual feelings and expectations. The trajectories of migration and the trajectories of identity formation have thus followed uneven and unconventional paths which once again prove the exceptionality of this migrant family as a case-study. What appears rather striking is the reflection that the fourth generation made about their origin and the active and creative role of some family members in constructing an ad hoc cultural identity based on a wide-range of different elements, which have been selected, organized and re-interpreted.

33Identity, broadly understood, is usually thought of as constructed within certain discursive categories which are, in turn, the direct product of specific historical periods, given institutional arrangements and prevailing cultural norms. Identity formation is often conceived as a process emerging “within the play of specific modalities of power” (Hall, 1996, 4) and superimposed cultural models of which the subject is in most cases not fully aware. The experience of the D’Angelis family, however, shows that individual practices of self-construction, perception and representation, under special conditions, can escape this scheme and produce alternative models within which the subject’s creativeness is predominant. Individual agency can produce new and unexpected models for constructing identity using both real and fictive elements to elaborate a narrative of the self, which primarily fulfills very personal, emotional needs. The complexity as well as the fascination of the D’Angelis’ migration lies perhaps in the possibility of reinventing identity at any generation on the basis of the new, discovered material and according to needs which change over time.

34Cultural identities have histories (Hall, 1992, 274-316), and the D’Angelis family exemplifies that such histories can often be constructed and articulated along very personal and heterogeneous lines, with a surprising degree of individual agency. The recovery of the D’Angelis Italian identity is not yet concluded ; there are still multiple gaps about the family’s past which need to be filled. Some family members are currently looking for more official documents about Giacomo, especially his death certificate in order to apply for the Italian nationality. As Jefferis D. E. D’Angelis put it : “at least we wanted to die as Italian nationals” (Interview with Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis, 14th Dec. 2009).

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Bibliographie

PRIMARY SOURCES

Adela Grose Jenkings, Certificate issued by the British Embassy, Consular Section, Santiago, Chile, 5 Nov. 1957. D’Angelis Family Private Archive.

Anagrafe, Stato Civile del Comune di Messina, vol. 133, State Archive of Messina, Italy, 1844.

Atti del I Congresso degli esportatori italiani in Oriente, Venezia 21-24 Ottobre 1909, Venezia, 1910 ; Atti del I Congresso degli italiani all’estero, 11-20 Giugno 1911, 2 vol. , Roma, 1911.

Camperio, Manfredo, Agenzie del Consorzio Industriale Italiano per il commercio coll’Estremo Oriente, Milano, 1898, Pubblicazioni Minori, Biblioteca Nazionale, Centrale di Firenze.

Correspondence between Louis D’Angelis and Adela Grose, D’Angelis Family Private Archive.

Correspondence between Louis D’Angelis and his daughter Bertha, 1943-1961, D’Angelis Family Private Archive.

Emigrazione e Colonie, Raccolta dei Rapporti dei Regi Agenti Consolari e Diplomatici, vol. II, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Historical Archive of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affaires (HA, MAE), Roma, 1906.

Emigrazione e Colonie, Rapporti dei Regi Agenti Consolari e Diplomatici, Historical Archive of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affaires (HA, MAE) Roma, 1893.

Extrait du register des actes de Naissances pour 1889, Mairie de Fontenay-Sous-Bois, Départment de la Seine, France, 1889.

“ Gli Italiani in India”, La Stampa, 27 Ottobre 1927.

“Gli italiani nella Presidenza di Bombay”, Rapporto del Cav. Giovanni Gorio, Regio Console in Bombay, in Emigraione e Colonie. Raccolta di rapporti dei Regi agenti consolari e diplomatici, vol. II, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Historical Archive of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affaires (HA, MAE), Roma, 1906.

Lanzoni, Fries, Relazione sul commercio dell’Italia coll’India, Bologna, 1896, Pubblicazioni Minori, Biblioteca Nazionale, Centrale di Firenze.

Letter from Mr. Frederick Penn to Bertha D’Angelis Grose, 1 Dec 1987, D’Angelis Family Private Archive.

Playne, Somerset, Wright, Arnold and Bon J.W., Southern India. Its history, people, and industrial resources, London, 1914-15.

Returns of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1698-1969, N/1 Bengal 1713-1948, OIOC, BL.

Returns of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1698-1969, N/2/128 f.102, Madras Presidency, OIOC, BL.

The Cyclopedia of India : Biographical, historical, administrative, commercial, Thaker, Calcutta , 1909.

INTERVIEWS

Interview with Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis, 15th Nov. 2009.

Interview with Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis, 14th Dec. 2009.

Interview with Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis, 15th Jan.2010.

Interview with Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis, 25th Jan.2010.

Interview with Julio Guillermo Menadier D’Angelis, 12th March 2010.

SECONDARY LITERATURE

Anderson, B., Imagined Communities, Verso, London and NY, 1983.

Baily, Samuel L., Immigrants in the lands of Promise : Italians in Buenos Aires and New York city, 1870 to1914, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1999.

Bartocci, E. and Cotesta, V. (eds), ‘L’indetità italiana : emigrazione, immigrazione e conflitti etnici’ in Quaderni della Fondazione G. Brodolini, 37, 1999.

Bartole, Anna (ed), L’immagine culturale dell’Italia all’estero, Il veltro, Roma, 1980

Bucich, Juan Antonio, El barrio de La Boca : La Boca del Riachuelo desde Pedro de Mendoza hasta las postrimerias del siglo XIX, 3rd edition, Municipalidad de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, 1970.

Burrell, Kathy and PANAYI, Panikos (eds), Histories and Memories : migrants and their histories in Britain, Tauris Academic Studies, London, 2006.

Cacopardo, M. C. and Moreno, J.L, La familia italiana y meridional en la emigracion a la Argentina, ESI, Napoli, 1994.

Capuzzi, Lucia, La frontiera immaginata : profilo storico e sociale dell’immigrazione italiana in Argentina nel secondo dopoguerra, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2006.

CAROLI. B.B., HARNEY, R. F., and TOMASI, L.F. (eds), The Italian immigrant woman in North America : proceedings of the tenth annual conference of the American Italian Historical Association held in Toronto, October 28 and 29, 1977, Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1978.

CERRONI, U., Precocità e ritardo nell’identità italiana, Meltemi, Roma, 2000.

CHANDRA GHOSH, S., The Social Condition of the British Community in Bengal, 1757-1800, Brill, Leiden, 1970.

Chatterjee, Partha, The Nation and its Fragments : Colonial and Post-colonial Histories, Princeton University Press, NJ, 1993.

Clifford, J. and Marcus, E. George, Writing Culture. The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, University of California Press, L.A., 1986.

Cohn, B. S., An Anthropologist Among the Historians and Other Essays, New Delhi, 1987.

De Benedictis, M. (ed), L’immagine italiana dal 1945 ad oggi, Lithos, Roma, 2001.

Devoto, F. and Rosoli, G. (eds), L’Italia nella società argentina : contributi sull’emigrazione italiana in Argentina, Cser, Roma, 1988.

Devoto, F., Estudios sobre la emigracion italiana a la Argentina, Sudamericana, Buenos Aires, 2003.

Gabaccia, Donna R., Italy’s Many Diasporas, Routledge, London, 2003.

Galli Della Loggia, E., L’identità italiana, vol. 1, Il Mulino, Bologna,1998.

Hall, S., and Gay du, Paul (eds), Questions of cultural identity, SAGE, London, 1996.

Hockings, P. (ed), Blue Mountains : the Ethnography and biogeography of a South Indian Region, Oxford University Press, new Delhi.

Joseph, John E., Language and Identities. National, ethnic, religious, Palgrave McMillan, New York, 1988.

Kincaid, Dennis, British Social life in India, 1608-1937, Routledge, London, 1938.

Neisser, Ulric and Fivush, Robyn (eds), The remembering self. Construction and accuracy in the self-narrative, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994.

Playne, Somerset, Wright, Arnold and BON, J.W., Southern India. Its history, people, and industrial resources, London, 1914-15.

Rosoli, Gianfausto, Un secolo di emigrazione Italiana 1876-1976, Roma, Cser, 1978.

ROSOLI, G., Emigrazione italiana in Argentina : aspetti sociali e culturali, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, Roma, 1993.

Ruggiero, R., Paese Italia. Venti secoli di identità, Donzelli, Roma, 1994.

Saija, M. (ed), L’emigrazione italiana transoceanica tra otto e novecento e la storia delle comunità derivate : atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, Salina 1-6 giugno 1999, 2vols, Roma, 2003

Scarzanella, Eugenia, Italiani d’Argentina ; storie di contadini, industriali e missionari italiani in Argentina, 1890-1912, Marsilio, Venezia, 1983.

Sollors, Werner, Beyond Ethnicity. Consent and descent in American culture, Oxford University Press, NY, 1986.

Sollors, W. (ed), The invention of ethnicity, Oxford University Press, NY, 1989.

Tirabassi, M., Itinera : Paradigmi delle migrazioni italiane, Torino, 2005 ; Bevilacqua, P., De Clementi, A., and Franzina, E. (eds), Storia dell’emigrazione italiana, Roma, 2002.

Viola, A., Italians in British India. Trades, Traders and Trading Networks, 1860-1920, (Unpublished PhD thesis), European University Institute, Florence, 2008.

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Notes

1  “My dear Berta, I invited you to come to Peru and live here, have you prepared the documents for your passport? you must ask for a Chilean passport, it’s easier to get it given that you’re married to a Chilean man, have lived all your life in Chile and your children are Chilean. Americans have never done anything for you (..)”. Letter from Louis D’Angelis to his daughter Bertha D’Angelis Grose, 14th June 1958, D’Angelis Family Private Archive.

2  The term ‘multicultural’ has been used in this context to indicate a family whose members had different cultural backgrounds.

3  Most of the sources used in this study have been generously made available by J.D. D’Angelis, whose efforts to recover the memory of his family have led him to collect a wide range of ‘objects’ (letters, images, stamps, postcards, newspapers articles and so forth) regarding the migration of his great-grandfather and grandfather. I am grateful to him for his help, gentleness and unconditional support. I must also thank Julio Menadier D’Angelis who provided interesting material for this study and accepted to share with me his personal memories.

4  The original surname was De Angelis, but when the family moved to India it was misspelled as D’Angelis. Over the years the family retained the Anglicized version of the surname.

5  According to information provided by the family, Francesco D’Angelis suffered from an unknown illness and spent much of his lifetime in a French hospital. It is not clear if he was mentally ill or had an incurable disease. He was killed by the Nazis in 1943.

6  The birth of Louis D’Angelis was registered in the town-hall of Fontenay-Sous-Bois; We learn from the birth certificate that Giacomo was not present when his child was born and when birth registration took place. Extrait du register des actes de Naissances pour 1889, Mairie de Fontenay-Sous-Bois, Départment de la Seine, 1889.

7  Before the Government of India Act , passed by the British Parliament in 1858, India was under the rule of the East India Company, that prevented the massive establishment of private traders from Great Britain as well as from other parts of Europe.

8  “Confectioner is a typically Italian profession”. Gli italiani nella Presidenza di Bombay, Rapporto del Cav. Giovanni Gorio, Regio Console in Bombay, in Emigraione e Colonie. Raccolta di rapporti dei Regi agenti consolari e diplomatici, Vol. II, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Historical Archive of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs (henceforth HA, MAE), Roma, 1906.

9  Gli Italiani in India’, La Stampa, 27 Ottobre 1927.

10  Federico Peliti (Carignano 1844-1914) was also a very well-known photographer, and a collection of his works is kept in the Calcografia Nazionale in Rome. For more information on his activities in India see: Miraglia, M., Federico Peliti, 1844-1914: un fotografo piemontese in India al tempo della regina Vittoria, Roma, 1993.

11  Italian food was in general quite expensive, and thus was destined to well-off Europeans and upper-class Europeanized Indians. However, most Indians, due to religious restrictions did not consume Italian food but they used to shop Italian delicatessens (sweets and cakes above all) for special occasions, and give them as gifts to European friends.

12  A quick look at the few surviving copies of the menus gives us an idea of the meals served at the D’Angelis Hotel: Potage, Poisson, Entrees, Releves, Rots, Entremets and Desssert served with Café Noir. I must thank Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis for showing me the menus he has collected over the years. Some of these menus come from the Buttolph Collection of the New York Public Library.

13  “In Madras the stable Italian colony is represented only by Mr G. D’Angelis, owner of a confectionary in that city and a hotel in Ootacamund”, from Lanzoni- Fries, Relazione sul commercio dell’Italia coll’India, 1896, Pubblicazioni Minori, BNCF.

14  Research in the Indian registers has brought to light several records about mixed- marriages between Italian men and non-Italian women. Returns of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1698-1969, N/1 Bengal 1713-1948, OIOC, BL.

15  In a letter addressed to her daughter Bertha, Louis said that she could write to her aunt Marianna in Spanish; Marianna knew Italian and French and therefore she would have had little difficulties in understanding Spanish. Letter from Louis D’Angelis to Bertha D’Angelis Grose, 16th June 1943, D’Angelis Family Private Archive.

16  Photo of Giacomo D’Angelis in Algiers in 1919, D’Angelis Family Private Archive. Some decades later, Louis D’Angelis, who had received this picture, handed it over to his daughter Bertha. Below the lines handwritten by Giacomo, there are a couple of sentences written in Spanish by Louis himself, who explained to his daughter that the man in the picture was her ‘abuelo’, her grandfather.

17  In Madras Giacomo D’Angelis was later popularly known as the Flying Corsican. He was a pioneer of India aviation; he flew the first biplane, which he probably had designed, on March 1910. For more information on Giacomo’s contribution to Indian aviation see: “ The Flying Corsican.” The Hindu, 16 July 2003. Print. The article presents some inaccuracies about Giacomo D’Angelis origin and life, but gives a good account of his first flight. Very recently a new article has been published by Azam, Muhammed. See: ‘Centenary: Flying Colours’ , The Dawn, 21 March 2010.

18  23Marianna D’Angelis married three times. Her first husband was Aldo Palazzo. Her second husband was Joseph Limpking, an American, and her third husband was an Englishman, Frederick Penn.

19  The date and place of Giacomo D’Angelis’ death are unknown.

20  Carlo D’Angelis died of drowning while hunting in India. No precise information is known about the circumstances of his death.

21  “My grandfather bought a three-patios house and some coventillos (in South America the word conventillo indicates buildings destined to be rented to immigrants) in “Pila del Ganso and one of the first Ford cars in Santiago”. Interview with Jefferis. D. Evans D’Angelis, 14 Dic. 2009.

22  “One of the first things I remember is that when the Second World War was at its height, my grandmother had a German neighbor who lived on the lower floor and the fights between my grandmother who was English and Mrs. Whillemina, who was German, were huge”. Interview with Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis, 25 Jan 2010.

23  “Mi abuela Adela hablaba preferentemente español con sus hijos. Yo me acuerdo que ella hablaba el español con muchos modismos mexicanos, con expresiones como esta: ‘ Ahorita voy vuelvo y no me dilato’; ‘ el que nace para maceta no pasa del corredor’; ‘¿ como estas mi guera?’ que en español seria ¿ como estas mi rubia?” (“My grandmother preferably spoke Spanish to her children. I remember that she spoke Spanish with many Mexican expressions such as ahorita” – the typical way of saying now in Mexico – “ and guera” –Mexican word for fair-skinned, blond people, it would be rubia in standard Spanish). Interview with Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis, 14 Dec. 2009.

24  “The only thing I do know is that Marianna’s father was Italian (Sicilian) and her mother Irish”. Letter from Mr. Frederick Penn- Marianna’s third husband- to Bertha D’Angelis Grose, 1 Dec. 1987, D’Angelis Family Private Archive.

25  Jefferis’ father was Donald Jefferis Jack Evans Angel, born in 1916 to a British father, Arthur Thomas Evans, who had moved to Chile to work as an engineer, and a Chilean mother, Tomasa Angel.

26  “Bueno la respuesta es difícil, yo diria que mitad y mitad porque naturalmente también el hecho de ser chileno no se puede desconocer, esta situaciòn ambivalente es difícil , bastante difícil porque se vive bajo dos banderas dos himnos, dos realidades diferentes y no se es una 100%, para bien o para mal”. (“Well, the answer is difficult, I would say that I feel half Italian and half Chilean, because the fact of being Chilean cannot be disavowed; this ambivalent situation is difficult, quite difficult because we live under two flags, two national anthems, two different realities and we feel we don’t belong 100% to one nation, for good or bad”). Interview with Julio G. Menadier D’Angelis, 12th March 2010.

27  In order to get a more precise idea of La Boca and its inhabitants see Bucich, Juan Antonio, El barrio de La Boca: La Boca del Riachuelo desde Pedro de Mendoza hasta las postrimerías del siglo XIX, 3rd edition, Municipalidad de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, 1970.

28  “At every corner Italian language (in general Italian dialects) was spoken. I loved to listen to old Italians speaking their dialects while chewing tobacco and spitting it from the corner of their mouths or smoking the then renowned toscanos (Italian cigars). I spent five years of my life in that marvelous environment”. Interview with Jefferis D. Evans D’Angelis, 15th Nov. 2009.

29  Scholarly works on Italian emigration to Argentina and Buenos Aires are numerous. For a general approach to the topic see: Devotoand Rosoli, 1988; Devoto, 2003; Sergi, 1940; Cacopardo and Moreno, 1994; Capuzzi, 2006; Rosoli, 1993; Scarzanella, 1983.

30  “Se suponia, como asi fué, que nos ibamos a sentir más cómodo donde nuestros apellidos calzaran con el colegio”(“Our parents thought that we felt more comfortable- and we actually did - in a school where people had surnames similar to our”). Interview with Julio G. Menadier D’Angelis, 12th March 2010.

31  Ademàs es un colegio bilingüe , por lo que se suponia y asi fuè que ibamos a salir hablando dos idiomas, el castellano y el italiano y que posteriormente nos ibamos a desarrollar en ese àmbito o colonia, como tambièn lo fue , puesto que nuestra relaciòn no solo era del colegio sino tambien con el Estadio Italiano donde siempre fuimos socios y compartimos todas las fiestas importantes con la colonia, sobre todo el año nuevo, donde nos conociamos con el resto de las familias de nuestro curso”(“Moreover it was a bilingual school and we were expected to become fluent in two languages, Italian and Spanish and get involved -as we actually did- in the activities of the (Italian) colony,given that we had not only relationships with the school but also with the Italian stadium. We were members of the Italian stadium and we used to participate in all the parties and celebrations organized by the colony, especially the celebration for the New Year, when we met all the families of our course).Interview with Julio G. Menadier D’Angelis, 12th March 2010.

32  “Mi padre que era mùsico tenia gran admiración por la música , compositores , cantantes italianos , creo que eso tambièn influyò”.(My father was a musician and he greatly admired italian music, composers and musicians, I think that this was a contributing factor). Interview with Julio G. Menadier D’Angelis, 12th March 2010.

33  “Lo de niño no se olvida nunca, para nosotros, me refiero a me y a mis hermanos, el italiano fue nuestra lengua “materna” durante todo las preparatorias recièn en humanidades empezamos a estudiar en castellano” (“You never forget what you experienced as a child. For my sisters and I Italian was our mother tongue during the years of school and only later on we began to study in Spanish”). Interview with Julio G. Menadier D’Angelis, 12th March 2010.

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Antonella Viola, « Migration across three continents : the d’Angelis family », Conserveries mémorielles [En ligne], #13 | 2013, mis en ligne le 10 mars 2013, consulté le 15 décembre 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cm/1308

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Antonella Viola

a obtenu son doctorat en histoire à l’Institut universitaire européen (Florence, Italie) et est chercheuse au Centre d’histoire d’outre-mer (Centro de História de Além-Mar, Lisbonne). Ses recherches précédentes ont porté sur l’émigration des entrepreneurs en Inde durant la domination britannique. Parmi ses publications, elle est notamment l’auteure des articles suivants : « I ‘mangiatori di spaghetti’ : il cibo e l`identità culturale degli Italiani in India(1860-1920) », dans Snodi. Pubblici e privati nella storia contemporanea, vol. 8, jan. 2012, pp. 14-39 ; « L'orientalismo a tavola. Percezione e rappresentazione dell'alimentazione indiana nei racconti dei viaggiatori e residenti italiani nell'India Britannica(1860-1930) », dans G. Proglio (ed) : Orientalismi italiani, Antares, Feb. 2012 ; « Greek Traders in British India , 1840-1920 . An introductory approach to the study of their business activities », dans Proceedings of the International conference of Economic and Social History : New Perspectives in Theory and Empirical Research, Rethymnon, Crete, 10-13 décembre 2008.

Antonella Viola holds a Ph.D in History from the European University Institute and currently works at Centro de História de Além-Mar (CHAM) in Lisbon. She has worked on Italian entrepreneurial migration to India during the British Raj. Her publications includes : “I ‘mangiatori di spaghetti’ : il cibo e l`identità culturale degli Italiani in India(1860-1920)”, in Snodi. Pubblici e privati nella storia contemporanea, vol. 8Jan. 2012, pp. 14-39 ; “L'orientalismo a tavola. Percezione e rappresentazione dell'alimentazione indiana nei racconti dei viaggiatori e residenti italiani nell'India Britannica” (1860-1930)" in G. Proglio (ed) Orientalismi italiani, Antares, Feb. 2012 ; ‘Greek Traders in British India , 1840-1920. An introductory approach to the study of their business activities’ in Proceedings of the International conference of Economic and Social History : New Perspectives in Theory and Empirical Research, Rethymnon, Crete, December 10-13, 2008.

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