Cultural History, Cinema and the Italian Post-War Diaspora in Britain
Chapter 4 Cultural Identity and Assimilation
In the Western philosophical tradition, there is a pervasive prejudice against, and a deep fear of, any consideration of the individual as a category of expe- rience and knowledge: ‘What is individual or singular is always relegated to the level of idiosyncrasy, and thus, by definition, outside knowledge and theory.’1 With this in mind, this chapter will address the idea of cultural assimilation by looking at some of the lived experiences of the diasporic Italian/British community members. As the previous chapters illustrate, the consumption of cultural expression emerges from a complex set of rela- tionships between the focus of this expression and the actual experience of cultural formation. A variety of dif ferent aspects of this experience will be considered, and both the historical and cultural markers of the Italian presence in Britain are considered throughout. Cultural stereotyping and its representation will be investigated alongside other mediated versions of the Italian diasporic experience in Britain.2 All stereotypes are based on grains of authenticity and the power of the cinematic image is not to be underestimated in its ability to formulate an understanding of oneself that is actually a mirror of a larger perception based on fantasy: ‘I always felt I let the side down, like I wasn’t Italian enough for the British and then never British enough when I was in Italy with my family. I never fitted in, where ever I was. 1 Patrizia Violi, ‘Language and the Female Subject,’ in Of f Screen: Women and Film in...
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