Figures in Italian Migration Literature
Chapter 1 Identity
One of the principal concerns of Italian migrant writing is, indisputably, identity. In the process of migration, identity is at stake because identity is customarily understood to be structured according to context: it is, argu- ably, impossible to formulate an individual identity without recourse to the physical, human, social and cultural features which surround the indi- vidual and serve as tools and markers of association or disassociation.1 If identity is thus dependent on location, then migration from one location to another involves a pronounced dislocation of the identity established in the place of departure and a renegotiation of it within the context of the place of destination. Sara Ahmed foregrounds the notion of encounter between people, ‘strangers’ to each other, and notes its disruptive ef fects: ‘The term encounter suggests a meeting, but a meeting which involves sur- prise and conf lict’. She articulates a question which subtends my discussion in this chapter: ‘We can ask: how does identity itself become instituted through encounters with others that surprise, that shift the boundaries of the familiar, of what we assume that we know? Identity itself is constituted in the “more than one” of the encounter: the designation of an “I” or “we” requires an encounter with others’.2 1 See Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London: Routledge, 1990) and, in terms particularly of representing oneself as a subject in the social sphere, her Giving an Account of Oneself (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005); Stuart Hall, ‘Cultural...
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