Genesis. XIII/1, 2014. Donne migranti tra passato e presente. Il caso italiano

Testata: Genesis • Anno di pubblicazione: 2014
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pp. 224, ISBN: 9788867282982
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Maria Rosaria Stabili e Maddalena Tirabassi

The guest editors introduce some of the main questions explored in this issue. Stabili and Tirabassi argue that a double exclusion has taken place in Italian historiography, related to both gender and ethnicity. Firstly, the authors note that the historiography on emigration, although representing a rich and important field, especially since the Second World War, has remained at the margins of the official canon of national historiography, while the history of women migrants has not been sufficiently incorporated into the history of migration. Secondly, they denounce a lack of interdisciplinary and intergenerational dialogue between students of women’s history and scholars of migration. Stabili and Tirabassi argue that globalisation, and the impressive population movements that accompanied it, has made even richer and more varied the agenda of themes and issues on the ground; moreover, globalisation encourages us to revisit the past, bringing to this examination new questions and sensibilities. The authors show how the periodization of the history of Italian migration has changed following a reconsideration of the ruptures, continuities and innovations that affected population’s mobility; they underline that such dynamics needs to be understood as the outcomes of processes only partly related to national political developments. Stabili and Tirabassi then present the essays contained in the thematic section, highlighting some common elements. A first common thread is the focus on geographical areas and on newly emerging issues in migration history, outside the field of the great migration. The second, central, communality concerns the effort to bring out the prominence of women in migration history in its different historical phases (from the ancien régime to contemporary mobility), in order to demonstrate the overall relevance of gender analysis to the study of migration.

«In my home town I have...». Migrant women and multi-local ties (Rome, 17th-18th centuries)
Eleonora Canepari

«In my home town I have». Migrant women and multilocal ties (17th-18th centuries)
The aim of this article is to explore the multi-local ties generated in the modern period by migrant women who maintained contact with their families in their hometowns and who continued to own possessions there, even many years after migration. While research on transnational families in contemporary societies has often concentrated on the working class, the investigations of these relations in the modern period have essentially focused on the élite of the mobile population, such as merchants and aristocratic families. In this way, the multilocal familial ties of those who actually constituted the vast majority of migratory flows in the cities of the Ancient regime, namely the labor migrants, have been largely overlooked. The first part of the article analyzes familial relations at a distance and family reunification as the motivating factors behind migration in early modern Rome. In the second part, the article discusses the cases of women owning goods that were sometimes located quite far from the cities where they lived, investigating how this double horizon manifested itself in written wills. The fact that these women maintained multi-local kinship and networks casts doubts on the notion of integration as the loss of contact with one’s hometown (a notion rooted in the concept of cultural assimilation developed by the Chicago school), highlighting instead that for many migrants the reference space remained a double one, better captured by the notion of simultaneity.

Progetti migratori. Lavoro e proprietà delle donne nelle migrazioni familiari (Torino, XVIII secolo)
Beatrice Zucca Micheletto

Migratory projects: women work and property in familiar migrations (Turin, 18th Century)
The paper aims to investigate and highlight the role of married women in the migration of low and middle class families in Eighteenth-century Turin. A current commonplace in the literature assumes that men had a leading role in migrations; allegedly, the husband acted as the family’s breadwinner, while his wife (and children) merely followed him. Contrary to this assumption, this paper demonstrates that married women played a crucial role in the achievement of a migration project. Indeed, by means of their work, the employment of their dowry, and their social relations, women actively contributed to the planning of the migration and to the settlement process of their household in a new environment.

Luces y sombras: mujeres inmigrantes italianas. São Paulo 1890 -1940
Maria Izilda S. Matos, Andrea Borelli

Lights and shadows: Italian immigrant women. São Paulo 1890-1940
The article explores the long-hidden experiences of Italian immigrant women in the city of São Paulo/Brazil (1890-1940). The analysis focuses on women’s daily work and struggles, both in the manufacturing space and in several other formal and informal occupations. The examination highlights their presence in commerce and domiciliary activities, as well as in “in-house” occupations, which women entered as maids, laundresses and nursing mothers. The main aim of the article is to shed light on the memory of Italian immigrants to the city, and in particular on a group of women whose stories have long remained hidden. The contribution is based on extensive original research and combines diverse sources, including documents from public and private archives, daily newspapers, literature, and oral testimonies.

Migranti antifasciste in Francia. Famiglia e soggettività tra cambiamento e continuità
Emanuela Miniati

Antifascist women migrants in France. Family and subjectivity between change and continuity
The Italian fuoriuscitismo is part of the mass migration to France taking place between the two World Wars: a popular migration of families, in which women played from the onset a central symbolic and practical role. Antifascist migration constituted a private project before a political one. Women in the antifascist and migrant families shared the same cardinal role, maintaining and establishing connections between comrades and relatives, and assuring continuity with the social environment and the communities of origin. Bringing a gender approach to this field, not only allows to uncover women’s presence, but it also sharpens our understanding of everyday private life, while bringing to light the networks on which transnational antifascism rested. The migratory condition transformed socio-cultural references, questioning gender distinctions and families’ traditional roles, including those of women and young people. The antifascist choice was a life choice, which brought with it a transformation of practices and values. Through their political engagement (and influenced by the French social context) women realized personal projects and in many cases acquired a new national conscience. Custodians of photographs and memories, women became the agents through which the antifascist transnational culture was preserved within domestic memory, pervading return migration and rendering anti-fascist families a central protagonist of the civic reconstitution of the country.

Giovani donne a scuola nel Canton Zurigo
Paolo Barcella

Young Italian women attending schools in Switzerland
During the Sixties and Seventies, thousands of Italian male and female youths attended schools in Switzerland. They were born between the Forties and Seventies and belonged to what can be regarded as an intermediate generation, between the so-called first generation and second generation of migrants: they had neither the age nor the self-awareness of the former, but the majority of them had not been born in the Confederation, like the latter. Most of the younger ones attended Swiss schools, learning the local language and starting processes of integration. Others, especially teenagers, attended the “Istituti italiani all’estero”. The article is based on the analysis of the essays written by female students, preserved in the archives of one of the schools. The examination focuses on the specificities of the migratory experience as they emerge from the essays, and on the representations of the students’ country of origin and host country. The article shows the relevance of how the writers felt treated as women to their description of both Italy and Switzerland. Moreover, the selected material offers important insights into living conditions in the Confederation, particularly in relation to cultural consumption and free time activities, shedding light on the actual levels of integration achieved and the dynamics of integration.

Il volto nascosto del ricongiungimento familiare: voci, vissuti e aspirazioni di donne e uomini bangladesi in Italia
Francesco Della Puppa

The dark side of family reunification: voices, experiences, and aspirations of Bangladeshi women and men in Italy
The paper analyzes the gender experiences and the redefining identity processes undergone by Bangladeshi migrant women involved in family reunification. The research is based on family reunifications pursued by husbands, often as a result of an arranged marriage, in a small industrial town in the North-East of Italy. Through the analysis of narratives of both husbands and wives, the article discusses the gaps that separate men’s and women’s understandings of the experience of migration and family reunification; the modes of patriarchal reproduction within the transnational space of diaspora; the symbolic violence and the masculine domination exercised by the “applicant” husbands on their “reunited” wives; the individual agency and the forms of resistance practiced by women.

Passaggi in ombra. Lavoratrici straniere della sfera domestica e catene globali della cura
Antonello Scialdone

Passages in shadow. Foreign domestic workers and global care chains.
A relevant aspect of female migration to Western countries is represented by the low-wage domestic workers and providers of home assistance: according to unofficial data, more than one million women (especially from Eastern Europe) are employed by Italian families, who do not have access to public provisions of welfare for dependants or eldercare. Underlying the importance of locating any understanding of care in a nuanced and comprehensive context, the text analyzes some of the main characteristics associated to female migrant care-workers, their relations with employers, and the cost of leaving their families behind.

Percorsi femminili nell’associazionismo italiano di Monaco di Baviera dagli anni ’70 ad oggi
Grazia Prontera

Female routes in the Italian associations of Munich from the 1970s until today.
The role played by self-organized migrant associations has assumed a growing relevance in the political integration of the city of Munich, to the extent that their activities have become an essential part of the city’s social and cultural life. The article examines the most active and representative of the Italian associations, as recognised by both the Italian community and the city of Munich. These include the association Rinascita, founded in 1972-73, the Circolo Cento Fiori, founded in 1980 and the movement Un’altra Italia, founded in 2009. The analysis of women’s work allows a first definition of the female profile in the Italian associations of Munich.

Le pagine della SIS
a cura di Rosanna De Longis