News Highlights

Seminar on ‘South Asian Immigrants in Italy: Integration and Conflict’

A Seminar on ‘South Asian Immigrants in Italy: Integration and Conflict’ was held at the Joan Robinson hall on 7 January, 2019. The seminar was presented by Dr Barbara Bertolani, an Independent scholar, whose research studies focus on immigration in Italy. She studies the role of etnic- and kin-networks of first generation migrants in the processes of migration and economic integration in Italy. Her doctoral dissertation investigated how these networks among South Asians in Italy are rebuilt, how they work for the in-members and the outsiders distributing useful resources to find jobs. Bertolani has also conducted research on inter-marriages and inter-ethnic couples in Italy. She is currently working on transnational South Asian families, on South Asian women and on the second generation Sikh youth in Italy, particularly on the transmission of cultural, religious and caste identity.

Abstract: South Asian Immigrants in Italy come mainly from the Indian region of Punjab. Immigration processes and economic integration of the Punjabis has mainly developed through mechanisms of ethnic intermediation, thanks to which they have built ethnic niches in economic sectors (such as the production of some typical local foods) that are crucial both from an economic point of view and from a cultural point of view, as they are closely linked to important aspects of Italian cultural identity and traditions.

From a social and cultural point of view, the integration processes of the South Asians are more complex: many of them are Sikhs, but the Italian state has so far denied the formal recognition of this religious faith, depriving them of public funding. Moreover, Sikhs in Italy are a far from homogeneous group and experience intergenerational tensions between parents and children born or raised in Italy. In particular, young Italian Sikhs have critical positions with respect to their parents on issues such as gender equality, castes, arranged marriages, and seek compromises between the aspirations of their families and personal desires.