La valigia americana. Breve storia di Emma detta “la Bresci”

Autore: Franco Ramella
In: Genesis. XIV/2, 2015
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The American Suitcase
The con ict between family obligations and the desire to enter into a different social world shapes the life of Emma, an Italian young girl emigrated with her father at the end of the nineteenth century from a Piemontese village to the city of Paterson, near New York. The family’s strategy aimed at improving its social status, downgraded in Italy from technological changes in the local textile industry: the wages paid to Emma by the American silk factories were necessary, with father’s wages, to nance the education of her brothers in Italy and their future of social mobility. Migration encourages young girl’s expectations: the American city represents a promise of self-realization. But her dreams meet obstacles dif cult to be overcome. In her case the city does not help to build signi cant social relationships outside Italian silk workers’s narrow social circles. Her opportunities do not expand. The story of Emma, that ends with her return to native village, shows the interest in women’s studies to explore in depth the ambiguous nature of the city: for a young woman like Emma the city at the turn of the century appears to be at the same time a space of freedom and possibility and a place where gender- speci c social constraints can limit strongly the range of choices.