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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

Italian emigrants in Canada between cultural and economic aspects

di William Anselmi, Lise Hogan
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 18 (2005), p. 61

The article is divided into four parts, beginning with the presentation of the context of the problematic at hand; the analysis of the background is next, followed by the re-contextualization of the object of analysis, and finally a gamut of points of view is rendered. The analysis is contextualized through the role of Canada as the host country, and thus the new frame of reference, to several waves of Italian migration ending around the early fifties of last century. Notwithstanding this historical richness, the person who had left Italy for Canada is generally still seen as a stereotypical figure (poor, uncultured, generally from the south of Italy), and not worthy of any greater recognition. Such an experience can be brought to focus around, then summarized according to, the role of the ‘oriundo’. The oriundo is that particular figure – the mask of Italian displacement – which can be ‘spectacularized’. A case in point would be the in-depth analysis of the role of the multimedia operation CHIN International in terms of identity-formation paradigms and their application in the Italian Canadian community. Another important aspect, as far as this oriundo construction is concerned, is the historical event of the internment of Italians during WWII. An historical event that is assumed to have laid the base for a certain reality of division within the Italian Canadian community. This division is still felt today in political terms since it is still being argued whether such a move by the government of Canada was indeed necessary – the corollary being the request by certain representatives of the Italian Canadian community for the Canadian government’s acknowledgement of this ‘injustice’. In short, the experience of the political internment disrupted a linear, historical sequence of immigration in Canada and contributed to a ‘silencing’ of the experience.