Italian, American, or Italian-American?

How to Cross the Hyphen between Italian and American Studies in the Context of the Italian Diaspora

In recent years, Italian scholars have paid greater attention to the phenomenon of Italian migration, a topic which for several decades appeared to primarily interest scholars in the United States. The organization of a symposium entitled, “Diaspore Italiane — Italy in Movement: A Symposium on Three Continents, Australia, the United States, Italy” (held in Melbourne [2018], New York [2018], and Genoa [2019]), highlights the growing resolve of Departments of Italian in Italy and abroad to create a transnational forum that encourages discussion about migration, specifically Italian migration, but from the perspective of diverse geographical perspectives. Such a forum allows scholars to analyze the various ways in which Italian culture interacts with local cultures over time. Taking inspiration from this tripartite conference, the symposium “Italian, American, or Italian-American?” pursues the same goal of encouraging dialogue between Italy and the United States on the topic of the Italian diaspora, and aims to bring the debate to a local, Southern California audience. The symposium will also look at diasporas through a comparative lens in hopes that the students at CSULB (the majority of whom come from immigrant families) will find that the Italian American experience resonates with their own.

This one-day symposium constitutes a groundbreaking moment in the still emerging field of Italian diaspora studies, which only recently has begun to receive attention as a unique rather than a derivative field. It brings together the foremost researchers from Italy and the United States to explore the many facets of Italian identity in the transnational spaces defined by Italian mobility. Within the broader context of migration studies, the field of Italian diaspora studies allows us to bring Italian studies and American studies together. By inviting scholars from Italian studies and American studies to address Italian American culture both intrinsically and in a comparative context, we intend to provide a set of preliminary studies and pathways for future work in this promising, nascent area of interest, and an original contribution towards shifting Italian American literary and cultural studies toward a genuinely transnational field that bridges Italian and American studies.

Program