The initiative’s founding fathers and the organisations involved have been working tirelessly for over a year to see the idea come to fruition.
The project in question is “Diaspore italiane”, a symposium in three continents organised through the collaboration of Co.As.It. Melbourne, the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute of Queens College in New York and the Galata Museo del Mare in Genoa.
The initiative involves three very different institutions: a welfare and cultural agency, a tertiary institute and a museum dedicated to Italian migration.
Though diverse, these three bodies have united over their mutual interest in the Italian migration experience and their strong connection to Italian diasporic communities.
After a seed was planted during a discussion between Baracchi and Fred Gardaphè of the Calandra Institute in 2015, the international convention slowly began to take shape and was set in stone last year.
The program is set to begin on April 5, 2018, with three conferences to be held in Melbourne across 14 months.
The second instalment will take place in November 2018 in New York, and the third will be held in June 2019 in Genoa, in the museum which hosts the most important permanent display on migration in Italy.
Each of the conferences in Melbourne will have a different principle theme and will feature experts and practitioners from all over the world who seek to answer any questions and provide a “transnational” approach to Italian studies.
“It’s a great honour and opportunity to associate a body like Co.As.It. with two such prestigious organisations which work with such passion and commitment,” Baracchi explained.
Co.As.It. Melbourne has demonstrated three decades of interest towards Italian migration, beginning with the foundation of the Italian Historical Society in 1981 and the Museo Italiano in 2010, with its rich calendar of cultural events.
When proposed, the initiative was well-received by local Australian experts, some of which are now part of the scientific committee: Loretta Baldassar and John Kinder (University of WA), Simone Battiston and Javier Grossutti (Swinburne), Joseph Lo Bianco (University of Melbourne), Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli and Andrea Witcomb (Deakin), Antonia Rubino (University of Sydney), Susanna Scarparo and Rita Wilson (Monash).
The symposium will cover all aspects linked to the Italian migrant community, focusing in particular on five contexts: Italian historic migration between 1870 and 1970, Italian diasporic communities, Italian colonial history, Italy as a home for migrants, and the new Italian emigration from the turn of the century onwards.
The comparative and transnational perspectives that will be explored as part of the project aim to provide answers and solutions and open discussions on issues such as multiculturalism or the rise of racism caused by the economic crisis.
In more recent times, studies on migration have become less inferior to other more “classic” Italian studies, such as the renaissance, culture, language and history, and this scheme will create a significant space for comparison and the sharing of ideas at an international level.
Baracchi explains that “Diaspore italiane” will open up a space for community discussion, allowing writers, poets, artists, musicians and the Italo-Australian public in general to meet with experts from across the globe.
It’s therefore an occasion to speak about italianità in diverse contexts, and what it means to be or feel Italian abroad or “foreign” in Italy.
For more information visit the initiative’s website.