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Embodying Migrants

Italians in Postwar Australia

Francesco Ricatti

This book constructs a suggestive, dramatic and colourful portrait of migrants’ everyday life in 1950s and early 1960s Australia, by focusing on important aspects such as health, sexuality, self-beautification, love, and morality. The book considers two columns edited by Lena Gustin (Mamma Lena) for the Italian-language newspaper in Australia La Fiamma between 1956 and 1964. Furthermore, the historical analysis is based on hundreds of original letters that Italian migrants wrote in the same years to the two columns or directly to Gustin. Most of these letters were never published in the newspaper, or were strongly edited before publication. Gustin’s selection and editing eliminated most of the explicit references to the body, sexuality, and violence. This ‘editing of the body’ opens up important questions about the construction of Italian ethnic identity by the migrant élites and by scholars.

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