Cultural History, Cinema and the Italian Post-War Diaspora in Britain
Chapter 2 Historicising the Italian Diaspora in Britain
Gabaccia’s final question and a central premise of this book is the follow- ing: whose ‘civiltá’ is at stake when thinking about the diasporic migrant? A contributing theme of this chapter is to further investigate the creation of an Italian identity that negates the idea of a mediated commercial pres- ence of Italians that is the stereotyped image throughout the world, and one that is the most common representation of Italianicity throughout the world: ‘It is not the civiltá Italiana of the largest of Italy’s diaspora, the ones formed by the workers of the world as they travelled the globe ceaselessly in search of economic security’.1 The other parallel image is that of the mafia, and this is another creation under consideration here. Gabaccia considers symbols of ‘labour migrants civiltá Italiana’2 through the language of food and mafia associations explored by film directors such as Scorsese.3 She only very brief ly addresses the film industry and sees specific (criminal) Italian representations as an indicator of a particular version of Italian identity that is most commonly understood as being authentic.4 She mentions the characterisations of the Italian criminal in the Mafiosi style from the early era of the 1930s and on to more recent Italian-American representations through the work of the previously mentioned Italian (Sicilian) American director, Martin Scorsese, and his films such as Goodfellas (1990).5 Sadly, 1 Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas, 188. 2 Ibid, 189. 3 Whom Gabaccia feels has spread these American versions of old Italian stereotypes...
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