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Book Chapter

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Farleigh Dickinson University Press/Rowman & Littlefield


In Migrancy, Culture, Identity Iain Chambers observes that present-day critical thought frequently adopts metaphors of movement, migration, maps, travel, and sometimes tourism to describe and explain the encounter with people and cultures that the European rationale is no longer able to domesticate in an era of increasing globalization. Chambers himself uses the metaphor of journey to represent this encounter and, taking on Said' s reflections on exile and his idea that homes are always provisional, 1 he states that the questions we meet en route displace our terms of reference, which are the certainty of the point of departure and the promise of a return home. What is left along the journey is the "memory of a primary loss [that] has made of exile a suggestive symbol of our times" (Chambers 2). In Chambers's discourse, exile is ultimately identified with migrancy, . which differs from travel insofar as it denies a movement between fixed and certain positions, implying a "dwelling in language, in histories, in identities that are constantly subject to mutation," and envisions the promise of homecoming as impossible. The idea of an unfeasible return here suggested does not simply apply to the migrants who have left home behind them, but also to those who reside at home; in fact, what is ultimately questioned and regarded as untenable is the possibility of a return to a dispersed "authenticity" and to the singularity of a culture in a metropolitan world increasingly characterized by cultural interactions and transformations. In this paper I wish to consider some of the complex cultural and literary issues that the notion of homecoming relation to Italy's migrations outside of Italy. The main questions I intend to address include the following: In which terms can we envision a repatriation of migrants nowadays? And, what are the cultural implications of a symbolical repatriation that comes at a particular historical moment that in.arks Italy's transition from a sending to a receiving country?

We can state today that Italian emigration has fully (Tirabassi 7) entered Italian public debate, after a long silence during which only a restricted group of scholars deemed it a worthy object of study. Multiple factors have contributed to the emergence of this field on the public scene, such as the formation of regional governments that have promoted contacts with the communities of local emigrants residing outside of Italy; the question of the Italian vote abroad; the issue of the repatriation of Latin Americans of Italian descent; a growing attention in the media to topics related to migration; and the phenomenon of immigration that has encouraged a more critical reflection on Italy's migratory past while creating the premises for a fertile exchange on the relationship between emigration and immigration. As the interest around migration studies increases and scholars of old and new migrations discuss the interpretative categories that best fit the Italian migratory paradigm,2 a fundamental question needs to be addressed: what is the role of the Italies outside of Italy within the public debate on Italian emigration?

Chapter of

The Cultures of Italian Migration: Diverse Trajectories and Discrete Perspectives


Anthony Julian Tamburri
Graziella Parati


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