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Italians in the Americas
Transcontinental approaches

Transoceanic Migrations (1998-2009): The (Re)Construction of Contemporary Italianness among Italo-Descendants from Argentina and Brazil

Migrations transocéaniques (1998-2009): La (re)construction de l’italianité contemporaine chez les Italo-descendants d’Argentine et du Brésil
Mélanie Fusaro et Petterson Molina Vale
p. 20-30

Résumés

Pendant environ un siècle, la «grande émigration » italienne (1860-1970) a entraîné des millions de migrants vers l’Amérique Latine, en particulier en Argentine et au Brésil. Selon la législation, leurs descendants ont aujourd’hui droit à la nationalité italienne iure sanguinis. Sur quelle « italianité » cette reconnaissance juridique repose-t-elle ? Comment l’identité de ces « oriundi » s’est-elle construite et transmise au fil du temps et des générations ?

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Texte intégral

1The so called «Great Migration» moved almost five million Italians from their paese to Argentina and Brazil, the main destinations of Italian emigration in South America. Those people were fleeing misery and expecting to substantially improve their life conditions in the New Continent. They progressively – but not without suffering and privations – integrated themselves into their host countries, giving up some habits and values while adopting others in a syncretic way. Their identities were constantly renegotiated, passed on and modified from generation to generation.

  • 1 It is important to highlight a linguistic distinction between «nationality», that refers to members (...)

2Today, thanks to the jus sanguinis regime of the Italian citizenship law n. 91 of 1992, most of their descendants still can, through a slow, complicated and bureaucratic «citizenship process», claim Italian citizenship1 and be officially recognized by the Italian State. Many of them engage in this process in order to travel, to study, or to work more easily around the world. Of particular interest to most of them is to be able to access Europe and its opportunities, which has been possible since the signature of the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992.

  • 2 Mélanie Fusaro, Les Italo-argentins en Italie (1998-2006): «retour aux racines» ou nouveau départ? (...)
  • 3 Mélanie Fusaro, ibid.

3Thus we could observe a movement of «return» migration with roots in the dramatic economic crisis that distressed Argentina after 19982. Articles on the arrival of Italo-Argentinians would appear frequently in the Italian press, and Italian politicians would celebrate the «return of the compatriots» re-joigning their «motherland», while most of the Italo-Argentinians would just see Italy as a step in a wider migration process aimed at Europe’s better standards of living, education, health and security. Likewise, many Italo-Brazilians went through the bureaucratic process in order to obtain the Italian citizenship and the advantages linked to it. But, as there is a huge demand and the waiting periods are very long in the Italian consulates in Brazil, many of them opted for concluding the process directly in Italy and experimenting life in Europe for a while (see Phases 2 and 3a in the figure below). In the Brazilian case3, we could distinguish differences and similarities with the Italo-Argentinians’ experience: as for the differences, a weaker knowledge of a Italian language and contemporaneous culture of Italo-brazilians; as for the similarities, the desire for a better future and a reflection about «italianness», which takes place, in particular, on the Internet. Websites, blogs, forums and social networks dedicated to the Italian citizenship have proliferated since 2000.

  • 4 The Portuguese word «resgate» can be translated both by «redemption» or by «rescue»; either way it (...)

4As we will see, the motivations are very pragmatic. If that is so, what value is then given to the Italian citizenship? Some Italo-Brazilians define their trajectory as a «resgate»4 of origins, others simply want a gateway to Europe and to a better life. Between utilitarianism and sentimentalism, which «italianness» is expressed by these Italo-descendants? What does «being Italian» mean for them, whose vision of Italy has been passed on through family narratives and regional traditions? Trying to answer these questions, we could also observe how Information Technology (IT) is redesigning the landscape of the Italo-descendant community; how it is building a new form of solidarity and even a new space for the definition and expression of the «cittadinanza» – working as a «laboratory of citizenship».

  • 5 Dino Cinel, The National Integration of Italian Return Migration, 1870-1929, Cambridge: Cambridge U (...)
  • 6 In order to collect accounts as well as some statistics, we contacted Italo-Argentinian association (...)

5Answering these questions requires a true interdisciplinary approach, as we must be able to build bridges and interfaces between disciplines (sociology, history) and between languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and even some dialectal pidgins). Italian emigration has been widely explored and numerous studies exist on the subject; but few scholars (one of them being Cinel5) have focused on the return of Italian migrants, and almost no study exists about the return of their descendants. We thus had to create our own approach, switching between theory and case studies, academic literature and interviews with Italo-descendants, and combining quantitative and qualitative research designs6.

6The results are to be looked at with precaution, as the phenomenon is recent, still in progress, and the data have been collected online, which means that they carry a bias: even though more and more people use the Internet today, we only reached a very specific section of the population of Italo-descendants – those who are connected and active on the web.

  • 7 Map drawn by the authors.

Schematic view of migration process of Italians and Italo-descendants7.

Schematic view of migration process of Italians and Italo-descendants7.
  • 8 Dana Diminescu, «Manifeste: Le migrant connecté. Pour un manifeste épistémologique», Migrations/Soc (...)

7«Connected»: this is the word. As Diminescu8 suggests, researching these recent phenomena requires an examination of the connections of migrants who move within transnational networks, in a dynamic and multipolar perspective. It also demands that researchers be connected to the material which they study. They must be inside the social networks, the forums, while keeping the critical distance necessary to interpret this corpus of empirical materials – a moving, proliferating corpus, which invites us to a new epistemology.

A Short Review of the Italian Emigration to South America

8A small step backwards, to look at Italian emigration to South America between the 19th and 20th centuries (see Phase 1 in the figure above), can be helpful to understand how the Italian identity has been shaped abroad.

  • 9 Concerning the discussion about the use of the term «diaspora», see Donna R. Gabaccia (ed.), Italy’ (...)
  • 10 José L Romero, Las ideologías de la cultura nacional y otros ensayos, Buenos Aires: Centro Editor d (...)
  • 11 Juan B. Alberdi, Bases y puntos de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina, (...)
  • 12 Domingo F. Sarmiento, Facundo. Civilización y barbarie en la República Argentina, Buenos Aires: Edi (...)
  • 13 João F Bertonha, A imigração italiana no Brasil, São Paulo: Ed. Saraiva, 2004.

9Argentina, and Buenos Aires in particular, has been one of the main destinations of the Italian «diaspora»9, having received more than 3,5 million Italians. José Luis Romero10 saw this mass phenomenon as a «flood», but most of the Argentinian politicians and ideologists of the 1880s wanted to take advantage of that huge supply of labor force. It was a way to implement their politics of frontier – a conquest of the desert inspired by Alberdi’s11 slogan «governing is populating». The Italians would settle in the hitherto uninhabited lands: White, Catholic, and hardworking, they represented a race that could bring civilization to a country of barbarian natives12. In Brazil too, the 1,5 million Italians who arrived between 1884 and 1959 were seen, according to the paradoxically progressive and racist thesis of the time, as a population that would colonize the agricultural regions of the South, and fill the demand for labor generated by the abolition of slavery in 1888, substituting the black slaves in the plantations of São Paulo. They also represented a factor of whitening which would purify Brazil’s blood and bring in civilization13.

  • 14 Maria Payer, Memória da língua. Imigração e nacionalidade, São Paulo: Escuta, 2006.

10Thus, in the early days, Italians were accepted and even welcomed; they could speak their languages and express their cultures. Nonetheless, during the so-called Estado Novo (1937-1945), President Getúlio Vargas launched a nationalization campaign aimed at homogenizing the nation, establishing prohibitive measures against the immigrants and in particular against Italians: it was forbidden to speak Italian at school, at home, in church, to print books, newspapers and posters in Italian, and Italian children had to learn Portuguese. According to Payer14:

«The linguistic and cultural homogenization process – in the sense of erasing immigrants’ historical memory of their place of origin – drives in this manner the immigrants of that period to accelerate their adaptation to the country and to the language of Brazil, as targets of precise techniques of nationalization

11Threatened by prohibitions and sanctions, the immigrants had no choice but to stop transmitting their language and their culture. It should not come as a surprise that today few Italo-descendants still speak Italian and/or their parents’ dialect.

  • 15 The lunfardo, popular dialect of Buenos Aires, is a mixture of Castilian with Italian; see Giovanni (...)
  • 16 Extracted from Blas Alberti, Conversaciones con Alicia Moreau de Justo y Jorge Luis Borges, Mar Dul (...)
  • 17 Emilio Franzina, La Grande Emigrazione. L’esodo dei rurali dal Veneto durante il secolo XIX, Venice (...)

12In Argentina, there were no such restrictive measures, and the Italians could melt in the population while keeping their culture. Argentinian culture is so impregnated with Italian elements – language15, gastronomy, architecture, etc. – that José Luis Borges could say: «I feel like a foreigner in Buenos Aires because I have no Italian blood, which almost everybody has.»16 But instead of speaking of Italians, it is more appropriate to be specific: Piedmontese, Calabrians, Friulans, Sicilians, Venetians, Apulians… Because the «Great Migration»17 happened when Italy had just unified, and Italians had not been made yet – according to the famous slogan attributed to Massimo D’Azeglio:

  • 18 Fernando J. Devoto, «Italiani in Argentina: ieri e oggi», in Altreitalie, July-December 2003, n° 27 (...)

«When speaking of Italians abroad [...] the first issue is that of having to put together such different experiences. […] Can it be said that there is […] at least one common identity among all the immigrants who arrived during these 150 years? And what could it mean for these people to feel Italian? […]. They did not even have a common language and […] even a sense of common membership. […] They discovered that they were Italians elsewhere, faced to the others, through a slow process of construction of a symbolic identity18

13Regional idiosyncrasy is still very important within the Italo-descendant community, which is supported by associations like «Veneti nel Mondo», «Piemontesi nel Mondo». Family memories and references which have been passed on from generation to generation are regionally inscribed. But Italian emigration to South America is now an old phenomenon, and the present Italo-descendants often belong to the fourth, fifth, even sixth generations. Many of them are not aware of their past, while some retain an image of Italy which has been distorted and no longer corresponds to the contemporary Italy that they meet when they arrive for their citizenship process – as we can see in this testimony of July 2009:

  • 19 The testimonies of Italo-Argentinians and Italo-Brazilians presented here were collected in July 20 (...)

«The italianness that Pietro left to my family is very different from the italianness that exists nowadays in the peninsula. […] With one century of cultural evolution, […] it is natural that there has been a significant change in the structure of values, habits and customs. Even so, it has been shocking to see that Italians are extremely consumerist (opposite to what my father taught me: the value of saving!) […] and that polenta is not a typical dish in all of Italy!»19

A Difficult Integration

14These linguistic and cultural differences sometimes produce real estrangement, and even psychological and domestic distress: nervous breakdowns, divorces, and separations have been frequently reported among Italo-Argentinians who went back to Italy and who mentioned the «failure» of their migratory project; some of them, after a few years, decided to go back to Argentina (Phase 3b in the figure above):

«But as much as I had found the way of starting a new life, my family could not get used to Genoa. My wife was depressed, my daughters did not do well at school, so they went back to Argentina. […] I have decided to stay in Genoa. I am doing well, I have a good job as an accountant, and I have also met a person that I love. I feel sorry for the division of the family, but, maybe it is even better the way things are.»

15For many others, then, it has been the beginning of a new life, the occasion for a reconversion, for a fresh start, or indeed, a new departure for another destination. In fact, many of those who migrate to Italy do not stay. They come back to Brazil, where they have a family, a degree to complete (as in Phase 3b in the figure presented here); or they move to another European country (Phase 3a): Germany, the Netherlands and the United-Kingdom mainly attract young qualified, career-oriented migrants, who see Italian citizenship as one of many resources and strategies for their professional development, as well as a key that gives access to the web of the global economy. It is not so surprising then that their integration in Italy becomes sometimes difficult, and many of them develop an «in-between» identity.

Hyphenated Identities

  • 20 Anthony J. Tamburri, To Hyphenate or Not To Hyphenate? The Italian/American Writer: An OtherAmerica (...)

16As we could see, the Italo-Argentinians and Italo-Brazilians are historically and linguistically placed in a dialectic between two cultures. They are the results of political processes of social integration and homogenization. But, paraphrasing the title of a book by Anthony J. Tamburri20 about Italo-American writers (To hyphenate or not to hyphenate), we wonder whether the use of the hyphen only obeys a trend, creating one meaningful adjective out of two or if it reflects a more complex reality: a double identity, balancing between inseparable cultures? Or is it rather just using a double adjective to manufacture a double citizenship that is backed by a specific legal process? To be sure, when Italo-Argentinians and Italo-Brazilians are asked «do you consider yourself as an Italian? Why?», various answers insist on the idea of a «right», assured by the Italian legislation. But many others mentioned the image of «blood», which refers to the jus sanguinis regime, and also to a more powerful metaphor, alluding to «genetic transmission» and to «inheritance»: according to them, one does not choose to be Italian, one is Italian. Italian citizenship is a patrimony, which is passed on from generation to generation, through the DNA. But, in order to claim this right and make this genetic identity official, spontaneous declaration is not sufficient: those who want to obtain recognition of their citizenship from the Italian authorities must engage in a slow, complex and bureaucratic process.

17The Kafkaesque labyrinth of the citizenship process and the waiting periods are so long that many Italo-descendants choose to go directly to Italy to conclude the process and obtain their passport more quickly (Phase 2 in the figure). This decision implies that they will look for documents, try to learn the history of their families, and often learn the Italian language and culture – at least the basics. The process is often the occasion for the (re)discovery of an identity: even if for prosaic and utilitarian reasons, these Italo-descendants begin to think about their own «italianness»:

«After having studied the Italian language for one year and having lived in Italy for almost six months, as well as interacted […] with various Italian families, my interest for the Venetian roots of my family increased a lot. […] That is how I […] ended up discovering a series of details about my ancestors which were hidden in the mists of time, and because of the generalized lack of interest of the family. I became a sort of encyclopedia of the subjects that have to do with the arrival of the family in Brazil.»

18Faced with the genealogical research on the family’s origins, one begins to ask oneself: «why did my ancestors have to come here? Why did they choose this place? How was it before? Where do they come from?». To answer these questions, one must dig into family memories, look for distant relatives, or even go to Italy to see their paese of origin:

«Despite all the difficulties, lack of information in order to build all the process and the huge bureaucracy that Italy imposes to the descendants for the recognition, I loved to redeem the origins of my great-grandparents, to know where they were born and to figure how they lived in so tough times, when everything was missing.»

  • 21 The Portuguese word «batalha» is not unusual in day-to-day conversations in Brazil, so a simple ref (...)

19The idea included in the Portuguese word «resgate» predominates in the testimonies; the epic image of a «battle» often comes out21, and Italian citizenship then appears as a victory, a trophy, a «conquest» the Italo-descendants are very proud of: «I am happy not only because this right has been recognized after many battles, but I unearthed a story that time had put to sleep.»

«I think that the battle that I fought to be able to do all this process was very much worth it and I give much more value to my passport and my conquest than others who obtained the citizenship because of the insistence of their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. It will be very useful but before anything I think that I closed a wound opened when my ancestors had to come to Brazil.»

20For some of these Italo-descendants, the research becomes a mission they feel invested of, a claim: the idea of a «recognition», of a «recovery», often mentioned, evokes the rescue of something lost, or unknown – with, at the end, the reward of the investment: the expression «valeu a pena» (it was worth it) comes out in various testimonies, linked to the pride of being finally recognized as Italians.

«Nevertheless, at the end, I can say that it was very much worth it. My Italian passport gives me not only the right to residency and work in the European Union. It returns me another part of my identity, something that remained lost for some generations, since my great-grandfather arrived in Brazil.»

21Very often, it seems that the Italian documents are only the official proof of an intimate feeling, of a self-consciousness. These Italo-descendants feel reconnected to their Italian roots and traditions, and melted so much in the Italian society that they now are totally part of it: «Yes, I consider myself as Italian, because I feel that I have been absorbed by the society, today my group of friends here in Italy are all Italians, I feel comfortable with the Italian culture and habits, I feel like one of them.»

22But many other Italo-descendants do not feel that they are recognized. They feel «different» and have trouble defining themselves. Faced with a new reality, they have to question their identity. And the conclusion is that, as they grew up in another continent, they are definitely South-Americans (Argentinians, Brazilians) rather than Italians, as if the jus soli prevailed over the jus sanguinis: «my citizenship has been recognized today and I do not feel Italian yet. I feel more Brazilian and I think that it is because I am different here (e.g. they introduce me as “the Brazilian”).»

  • 22 From the State of Minas Gerais, in Brazil.

«The more I know the Italian culture(s), the more I identify myself with my Mineiras22 and Brazilian roots. […]. I come from a Venetian family who did not even know the Italian language and who emigrated before the formation of the Italian state, thus before the constitution of an «Italian identity», assuming that it exists…»

23Or, as is the case for many of them, there is a constant balance between two identities that does not necessarily match harmoniously:

«If in Argentina I felt ‘European’ (I am the first generation born outside Italy, for which I have been educated, sharing the Italian culture with the local culture), and if in Italy I felt «Argentinian» at the beginning, I now feel like a «transnational hybrid»: a little bit of one thing and a little bit of another, but not being totally one or the other!»

24Sometimes, the identities manage to reconcile, thanks to a hyphen which now becomes all meaningful: «I consider myself Italian as much as I consider myself Brazilian. The two homelands welcomed me.» «I do not consider myself as Italian. I am Italo-Brazilian.»
Someone, after a deep reflection about this double, even multiple identity, managed to use it strategically:

«The experience in Italy deeply stirred my identity. At the end, does the fact that the Italian Constitution says that I am Italian make me Italian? Or is it necessary to have cultural characteristics similar to the Italians of today? Or, for being Italian am I less Brazilian? Is it possible to be Italian even if I grew up in Brazil, and I consider myself 100% Brazilian? These questions do not have easy answers, and certainly they will continue not having. When I was residing in Veneto, I tended to present myself as totally Italian, but it was an attempt to escape the huge discrimination which exists in that region against «extracomunitari». Back to Brazil, I preferred the title «Italo-Brazilian», because it is difficult and unnecessary to claim that I am 100% Italian in front of my Brazilian compatriots – people tend to think that I am trying to place myself in a superior level as a gringo […]. In other countries, it depends on what is more convenient. When I went to Kenya I used the Brazilian identity, because I thought that the Kenyans could feel somewhat defiant with a country which once oppressed African peoples, but certainly would feel happy to meet a Brazilian (football, Ronaldo, Kaká…). It was the same thing in the South-American countries (except Argentina) where the Brazilians are seen very positively. In the developed countries, on the other hand, I use the Italian identity only when it is necessary, for the immigration services or in case I need to use public services, like in hospitals or with the police.»

25And others openly play the card of globalization and transnationalism, presenting themselves as «citizens of the world», and part of contemporary migration trends:

«I consider myself as a citizen of the world. Italy is the place where I live and that I admire for many things. I think the phase of the exaggerated patriotism is now outdated, the world is global, we are all connected and interlinked.»

  • 23 António A Santos, A globalização: um processo em desenvolvimento, Lisboa: Instituto Piaget, 2005.

26«Connected»: what we could see in these migrations of Italo-descendants towards Italy is the use of webs of information and solidarity, official or otherwise, and accessible online. This phenomenon is quite new: it began around ten years ago, and keeps evolving. One of our hypotheses to explain the increasing flow of Italo-Brazilians towards Italy since the beginning of the 1990s is its coincidence with the development of IT (Internet, mobile phones, etc.). For Santos23, technological advance made the circulation of information and people easier and easier: «To the increase of communication facilities and distant displacement, corresponds necessarily the extension of the political unities and human communities.»

27The coincidence between the phenomenon that we are presenting and the emergence of cheap and accessible IT is one hint of a causal relation. But of course much more examination would be needed for such a nexus to be fully uncovered, as there is a whole set of circumstances that are relevant in migratory phenomena that we have not dealt with in a systematic way: for example, the various backgrounds of people and their motivations. Even so, we have recently observed the multiplication of websites, blogs, and social networks about the citizenship process, the emergence of new communication channels, parallel to the official information circuits, and the development of new forms of exchange and solidarity among the Italo-Brazilian community, which have smoothed the citizenship process and the migration to Italy. All of this makes us ask: is the IT a «laboratory of citizenship» where the Italo-descendants’ identities are discussed, transformed and renegotiated?

New Migrations

  • 24 Philippe Dewitte, «Homo Cybernatus», Hommes et Migrations, Nov-Dec 2002, n° 1240, p. 1-6.

28It came along with contemporary trends more than it provoked them: globalization, flexible labor markets, fluidity of exchanges, as well as the redesigning of boundaries, identities, and memberships: «Democratic life, discussion forums, minorities expression, struggle for liberty… find their place on the Net, thanks to the incontestable accessibility of this tool.24» In parallel to the space of consulates, and diplomatic and parliamentary representatives, the Italo-Brazilians have their own channels to spread the debate on citizenship, express their complaints, and question the Italian law – for example:

«If your objective is the recognition of the Italian citizenship, see HERE how Italy has denied this right and how you can help by being aware of the problem and protesting. […] If you wish to join the protest […], please go to this address http://www.petitiononline.com/​sal5255/​petition.html and click on «Sign the Petition» ; […] We need to show to the Italian politicians that we are many, and very united for the defence of our interests.»25

29The forums and blogs open discussions on the most diverse subjects, such as culture and politics. For example, in the Internet forum «Brava Gente»26:

«We founded Brava Gente with a democratic character, maybe the secret why the group is still working today. Here you can discuss everything relating to Italy. […] We discuss football, politics, citizenship, genealogy, everything.»

30These virtual spaces can hence be seen as informal think-tanks where the future of the community is discussed, especially in debates during the elections. IT users, in particular Internet users, dismantle, question and redefine the concepts of «citizenship», «identity», and «italianness». Thanks to IT, one can be «neither here nor there», or «here and there at the same time». So, what does «being Italian» and being «Italo-descendant» mean? The co-presence made possible by the IT alludes to transnational patterns of plurimembership.

  • 27 Abdelmalek Sayad, La double absence: des illusions aux souffrances de l’émigré, Paris: Seuil, 1999.
  • 28 Dana Diminescu, op. cit.
  • 29 Paul Silverstein, «Immigrant Racialization and the New Savage Slot: Race, Migration, and Immigratio (...)
  • 30 Myria Georgiou, «Les diasporas en ligne: une expérience concrète de transnationalisme», Hommes et M (...)
  • 31 Antoine Pécoud and Paul Guchteneire (ed.) Migrations sans frontières. Essais sur la libre circulati (...)

31Sayad27 speaks of «emigrant», Diminescu28 of «migrant», and Silverstein29 evokes the «trans-migrant» who transcends geographic distances and cultural boundaries. The Italo-Brazilians who we interviewed are users of IT, thus they routinely chat with people in Brazil through Skype or Windows Messenger, send pictures and videos of Italy to their friends and family, etc. The Italo-Brazilian «diaspora» becomes then an «online diaspora»30 and makes the notions of «boundary» and «nation-state» more and more complex. We are still far enough from the «world without borders» imagined by Pécoud and Guchteneire31; nonetheless, the world is now characterized by a new form of cosmopolitanism.

  • 32 Mihaela Nedelcu, Néo-cosmopolitismes, modèles migratoires et actions transnationales à l’ère du num (...)

«The shaping of a cosmopolitan imaginary as well as the emergence of new ways of being and belonging in a world of interconnections and interdependencies, where boundaries between mobile and sedentary, migrants and non-migrants, inside and outside, gradually fade away. On the one hand, ITs give individuals the opportunity to multiply their anchorages, appropriate cosmopolitan values, develop deterritorialized biographies and act remotely in real time.»32

  • 33 Giulio Mattiazzi, Migrazioni, influenze politiche e ibridazione culturale fra Europa e America Lati (...)

32Shall we then think, like Mattiazzi33, «displacement as an habitat»? New theoretical paradigms have to be invented, which makes us see the formation of identity as a historical process of interconnections and displacements. As we show in the figure above, the italianness of Italo-descendants has been shaped by historical and contemporary dynamics of migration; it has also been built through integration and acculturation as the testimonies show. And it is still being renegotiated: the new spatial-temporal patterns (ubiquity, simultaneity, flexibility and mobility) redesign the outlines of the notion of identity. All these phenomena invite us to think of concepts henceforth obsolete. We have to update them, taking into account the new dynamics of an increasingly borderless world: «identity», «nationality», «integration», «cosmopolitanism», «transnationalism» shall be questioned and reinvented.

33The existence of a national Italian identity monolithically defined has always been illusory, for a series of legal, historical and cultural reasons. For the Italians of Argentina and Brazil, «italianness» has become a multiform notion, increasingly complex since the end of the 20th century. When conjunctural (crisis) and structural (necessity of an experience abroad; increasing availability of information) factors launched the flow of so-called «return migrations» of Italo-descendants towards Italy, they also renewed the dynamics of the construction of the Italian identity, which is still in progress.

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Notes

1 It is important to highlight a linguistic distinction between «nationality», that refers to membership of a «nation», i.e. to the group of individuals often linked by the same language, history, civilization, interests, aspirations, and conscious of their shared patrimony; and «citizenship», which instead refers to the Aristotelian definition of the pólis as a «community of citizens» (koinonia politón), which links the citizen to a realm of formally recognized rights. The theoretical distinction between these requests a deeper examination that is not the aim of this paper: we thus adopt the word commonly used by the public, «citizenship», keeping nonetheless in mind the tension that exists between being a «national» and being a «citizen».

2 Mélanie Fusaro, Les Italo-argentins en Italie (1998-2006): «retour aux racines» ou nouveau départ? Paradoxes d’un mouvement migratoire contemporain, Turin: L’Harmattan Italia, 2009, and Mélanie Fusaro, «Les Italo-brésiliens (1999-2009): nouvelles technologies, nouvelles migrations», Master’s degree, Université de Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2009.

3 Mélanie Fusaro, ibid.

4 The Portuguese word «resgate» can be translated both by «redemption» or by «rescue»; either way it includes the idea of recovering something or someone from a threat. Using this expression, the Italo-Brazilians show how precious and valuable their Italian origins are for them.

5 Dino Cinel, The National Integration of Italian Return Migration, 1870-1929, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

6 In order to collect accounts as well as some statistics, we contacted Italo-Argentinian associations for the first study, and conducted a survey for the second. As the focus was on IT in this latter case, we decided to use the Internet, and spread a questionnaire among the websites used by the Italo-Brazilian community. 175 answers were received, which was enough to detect patterns and to derive interesting conclusions.

7 Map drawn by the authors.

8 Dana Diminescu, «Manifeste: Le migrant connecté. Pour un manifeste épistémologique», Migrations/Société, vol.17, n° 102, Jan. 2009, p. 275-292.

9 Concerning the discussion about the use of the term «diaspora», see Donna R. Gabaccia (ed.), Italy’s Many Diaspora. Exiles, Elites and Workers of the World, London: Routledge, 2000.

10 José L Romero, Las ideologías de la cultura nacional y otros ensayos, Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1982.

11 Juan B. Alberdi, Bases y puntos de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina, Buenos Aires: Editorial Universitaria de Buenos Aires, 1966.

12 Domingo F. Sarmiento, Facundo. Civilización y barbarie en la República Argentina, Buenos Aires: Ediciones Estrada, 1940.

13 João F Bertonha, A imigração italiana no Brasil, São Paulo: Ed. Saraiva, 2004.

14 Maria Payer, Memória da língua. Imigração e nacionalidade, São Paulo: Escuta, 2006.

15 The lunfardo, popular dialect of Buenos Aires, is a mixture of Castilian with Italian; see Giovanni Meo Zilio, «Quelques autres Italies», Les langues Néo-Latines, June 1985, n° 253, p. 67-94.

16 Extracted from Blas Alberti, Conversaciones con Alicia Moreau de Justo y Jorge Luis Borges, Mar Dulce, Buenos Aires, 1985, http://www.siicsalud.com/saludalmargen/pacientes/00d20002.php, retrieved September 12, 2011; translated by the authors.

17 Emilio Franzina, La Grande Emigrazione. L’esodo dei rurali dal Veneto durante il secolo XIX, Venice: Marsilio, 1976.

18 Fernando J. Devoto, «Italiani in Argentina: ieri e oggi», in Altreitalie, July-December 2003, n° 27, p. 4-17, p. 5, translated and underlined by the authors.

19 The testimonies of Italo-Argentinians and Italo-Brazilians presented here were collected in July 2006 and March 2009 (see Mélanie Fusaro, op. cit.) – translations and underlining by the authors.

20 Anthony J. Tamburri, To Hyphenate or Not To Hyphenate? The Italian/American Writer: An OtherAmerican, Montréal: Guernica, 1991.

21 The Portuguese word «batalha» is not unusual in day-to-day conversations in Brazil, so a simple reference to migration as a battle would not constitute anything exceptional. In the context of our interviews, however, the common reference to a battle became a detailed description of a struggle, in a way that much extrapolates the common usage of that linguistic figure.

22 From the State of Minas Gerais, in Brazil.

23 António A Santos, A globalização: um processo em desenvolvimento, Lisboa: Instituto Piaget, 2005.

24 Philippe Dewitte, «Homo Cybernatus», Hommes et Migrations, Nov-Dec 2002, n° 1240, p. 1-6.

25 Retrieved September 12, 2011 from: http://www.imigrantesitalianos.com.br/

26 Retrieved September 12, 2011 from: http://it.groups.yahoo.com/group/bravagente/

27 Abdelmalek Sayad, La double absence: des illusions aux souffrances de l’émigré, Paris: Seuil, 1999.

28 Dana Diminescu, op. cit.

29 Paul Silverstein, «Immigrant Racialization and the New Savage Slot: Race, Migration, and Immigration in the New Europe», Annual Review of Anthropology, Oct. 2005, Vol. 34, p. 373.

30 Myria Georgiou, «Les diasporas en ligne: une expérience concrète de transnationalisme», Hommes et Migrations Nov.-Dec. 2002, n° 1240, p. 10-18.

31 Antoine Pécoud and Paul Guchteneire (ed.) Migrations sans frontières. Essais sur la libre circulation des personnes, Paris: Editions Unesco, 2009.

32 Mihaela Nedelcu, Néo-cosmopolitismes, modèles migratoires et actions transnationales à l’ère du numérique. Les migrants roumains hautement qualifiés, Ph.D. Dissertation, Université de Neuchâtel, 2008, p. 16.

33 Giulio Mattiazzi, Migrazioni, influenze politiche e ibridazione culturale fra Europa e America Latina (XVIII-XXI sec.), Turin: L’Harmattan Italia, 2009.

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Titre Schematic view of migration process of Italians and Italo-descendants7.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/diasporas/docannexe/image/1744/img-1.jpg
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Mélanie Fusaro et Petterson Molina Vale, « Transoceanic Migrations (1998-2009): The (Re)Construction of Contemporary Italianness among Italo-Descendants from Argentina and Brazil »Diasporas, 19 | 2011, 20-30.

Référence électronique

Mélanie Fusaro et Petterson Molina Vale, « Transoceanic Migrations (1998-2009): The (Re)Construction of Contemporary Italianness among Italo-Descendants from Argentina and Brazil »Diasporas [En ligne], 19 | 2011, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2019, consulté le 24 septembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/diasporas/1744 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/diasporas.1744

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Auteurs

Mélanie Fusaro

Mélanie Fusaro is a PhD student and a lecturer in Italian Studies at Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle University. She published Les Italo-argentins en Italie (1998-2006): “retour aux racines” ou nouveau départ? Paradoxes d’un mouvement migratoire contemporain (Turin, L’Harmattan Italia, 2009).

Petterson Molina Vale

Petterson Molina Vale is an economist doing a PhD in development studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His work focuses on agricultural and environmental matters and their relation with development.

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Licence Creative Commons
Diasporas – Circulations, migrations, histoire est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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