Friday, August 1, 2008


It is a great pleasure for me to be part of the Organizing Committee of this conference that will take place at the London Italian Institute of Culture from the 14th to the 15th of November 2008, and which has been put together by Dr Adam Ledgeway (University of Cambridge) and Prof. Laura Lepschy (UCL, Honorary Professor).

The aim of the conference, as the two organizers state, is to bring together, for the first time, two different but related strands of research surrounding the language and culture of migration within the Italian context. The first concerns the mass emigration of circa 26 million Italians (Haller 1997) out of Italy during the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century to such countries as the UK, Germany, USA, Canada, Latin America and Australia. The second involves the more recent phenomenon of immigration into Italy from, for example, former eastern European communist states and North Africa. In both cases, there arise significant questions about the cultural and, in particular, linguistic integration of such immigrant communities in their host country. Key in this respect is the issue of national identity, which, especially in subsequent generations, is increasingly defined by linguistic competence in the migrant language (characterised by growing attrition and hybridism; Gonzo & Saltarelli 1989) and that of the host country (characterised by ever greater competence). This leads to complex and often unstable and shifting concepts of native language or mother tongue, which can vary greatly across the different generations of the migrant community. The proposed conference will therefore examine these issues from two distinct but complementary perspectives, bringing together leading (socio)linguists in the field and a number of scholars working on migrant Italian literatures. The former will provide both general overviews and in-depth case studies of the structural and social development of Italian varieties spoken in representative immigrant Italian communities around the world, whereas the latter will introduce and explore issues and themes that specifically characterise Italian migrant literature and film (e.g. national and linguistic identity, cultural conflict, integration), as well as presenting detailed studies of some of the most influential literary figures in the field. Particularly important in this respect are the parallels that can be drawn from a historical perspective between the use of Italian as a literary language in previous centuries by authors whose mother tongue was one of the many dialects of Italy (the so-called Questione della lingua) and the use of Italian by modern migrant writers, both in and out of Italy, for whom (standard) Italian might not be their mother language.
To reinforce this integrated approach to the study of the language and culture of migration, which, to date, has been characterised by little, if any, collaboration between linguistic and literary scholars, the conference will include not only a number of individual conference papers, but also a series of roundtable discussions involving both groups of scholars and a number of scholar-led interviews with a selection of modern migrant authors, including T. Lamri (Algeria, now in Ravenna), C. Ali-Faah (Somalia, now in Rome) and G. Pressburger (Hungary, now in Trieste), as well an interview with the film director Marco Tullio Giordana. Given the themes of the conference and its integration into the events of the annual ‘Settimana della lingua italiana’, which aims to raise the profile of Italian language and culture among the general public, it is envisaged that the conference will be of interest not only to researchers, postgraduates and teachers of Italian at all levels, but also to the general public and, in particular, the large Italian immigrant community in the UK. Both the conference presentations and the roundtable discussions will be based on the expertise and research of the various contributors, whereas the interviews with migrant authors will offer the possibility to explore and test directly new ideas and hypotheses about recent linguistic and literary developments in a number of migrant communities in and out of Italy. From this synergy we trust that new insights, reflections and stimuli for further original projects will emerge.

Further information about the conference will appear in due course. For any informal inquiries, please contact Dr Adam Ledgeway


  • Camilla Bettoni (University of Verona) Tra lingua, dialetto e inglese: mezzo secolo di emigrazione italiana in Australia
  • Jenny Burns (University of Warwick) Into and out of Italian: the mobility of language(s) in immigration literature in Italian
  • Kathy Burrell (De Montfort University) 'We are Italians but we don't have nothing in common': social ties and cultural identities in a small Italian community
  • Antonio d'Alfonso (Montreal) Born Italian in Montreal
  • Fabrizio De Donno (RHUL) Dismatriati: orfani d'Africa e cultura migrante in Italia
  • Fabiana di Brazzà (University of Udine) Voci dall'Italia del Nord-Est: scrittura narrativa di immigrati
  • Derek Duncan (University of Bristol) Language and migration in Italian cinema
  • Francesco Goglia (University of Exeter) The Igbo-Nigerian community in Italy: languages and cultures in contact
  • Herman Haller (CUNY) Italian immigrant speech in the years of mass migration: Language at play in Eduardo Migliaccio's 'Macchiette'
  • Carla Marcato (University of Udine) Plurilinguismo vecchio e nuovo nell'Italia del Nord-Est
  • Laura Pariani (Milan)Il linguaggio degli italiani del Rio de La Plata e l'influenza di tale lingua composita sulla letteratura
  • Domenico Pietropaolo (University of Toronto) Italiese: Language loyalty and the culture of immigration
  • Loredana Polezzi (University of Warwick) Polylingualism and self-translation in Pietro di Donato's 'Christ in Concrete' and Giose Rimanelli's 'Familia'
  • Arturo Tosi (RHUL) The language of Italians in Britain
  • Stefania Tufi (University of Liverpool) Degrees of visibility of immigrant communities in the linguistic landscape of Genoa and Cagliari
  • Nigel Vincent (University of Manchester) Tra fiorentino e milanese: la Divina Commedia nelle versioni di Carlo Porta.
  • Cristina Ali-Farah interviewed by Federica Mazzara (UCL)
  • Marco Tullio Giordana interviewed by Guido Bonsaver (University of Oxford)
  • Tahar Lamri interviewed by Marta Niccolai (UCL)
  • Enrico Palandri interviewed by Monica Francioso (University of Dublin)
  • Giorgio Pressburger interviewed by Emma Bond (University of Oxford)
Organizing Committee:
Adam Ledgeway (University of Cambridge) & Anna Laura Lepschy (Universities of UCL & Cambridge), with the collaboration of Pierluigi Barrotta (Italian Cultural Institute, London), Guido Bonsaver (University of Oxford), Lorenzo Losi (Ente Nazionale Acli Istruzione Professionale), Carla Marcato (University of Udine), Federica Mazzara (UCL), Domenico Pietropaolo (University of Toronto), Naomi Segal (Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies), Nigel Vincent (University of Manchester).

NOTHING IS MISSING. An Exhibition at UCL by Mieke Bal 20-21 September 2008

Some pictures from the Mieke Bal's exhibition!

Dear All,
It is a very great pleasure to announce an important event I am organizing for the UCL Mellon Programme. It is a video installation on migration by the cultural theorist and artist Mieke Bal called "Nothing is Missing".
The exhibition will take place at the UCL Haldane Room (North Cloister) and it will last two days, from the 20th to the 21st of Semptember 2008.
The 21st of September it will be included in the London Open House Festival. Many thanks to the UCL SLade School of Fine Arts for providing me with the audio-visual equipment.

Saturday 20 September Mieke Bal will inaugurate the exhibition with a lecture that will take place at the UCL Old Refactory at 12pm introduced by the UCL Vice-Provost Michael Worton and chaired by myself.
For further details click on the image.

Festival of Mediterrenean Literature 11-14 September 2008

This is a Literature Festival in Italy (Lucera, FG), promoted by the cultural association “Mediterraneo è Cultura”, where I have been invited as moderator of an Algerian writer, Amara Lakhous. Lakhous lives in Italy and writes in Italian and he is the author of a very interesting book "Scontro di civiltà per un ascensoore a Piazza Vittorio", recently available in English translation. The Festival is focused on Mediterranean cultures and the theme this year is “Conflicts”. It is going to be a very exciting experience. Looking forward to writing about that.