Writing Campanian lives: Considerations of transnational identity and belonging

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Australia experienced a period of mass migration from Italy in the immediate post-Second World War period. This article presents findings from the oral narratives of a cohort of first-generation Italians who migrated from the region of Campania, in southern Italy, to the city of Adelaide, in the state of South Australia, in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of exploring the pre- and post-migratory vicissitudes of the informants, as well as their personal memories of the long sea voyage, the analysis examines the effects of cultural dislocation over a broad arc of time and discusses issues connected to identity formation, belonging, the loss of home and cultural maintenance on a group of migrants who are now senior citizens. The oral testimonies evidence the candid reactions of the project informants to the prospect of transnational migration, the cultural impact upon reaching the unfamiliar destination site and the transformative factors that motivated both the maintenance of core values and the enactment of cross-cultural communication strategies. The oral testimonies reveal the project conversants' negotiation of cultural boundaries, in order to cope with the assimilation pressures being exerted by the dominant culture, and their honing of survival strategies in order to facilitate the identity formation and successful integration of subsequent generations. The article also includes excerpts from the oral testimonies of a second cohort of informants of Anglo-British origin who were residing in Adelaide during the post-war period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-166
Number of pages17
JournalForum Italicum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • belonging
  • cultural maintenance
  • identity
  • transnational migration


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