Building Italian Regional Identity in Toronto: Using Space to Make Culture Material

By Harney, Nicholas | Anthropologica, January 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Building Italian Regional Identity in Toronto: Using Space to Make Culture Material


Harney, Nicholas, Anthropologica


In this paper I examine several ethnographic examples that locate the ideas of flow and deterritorialization in recent anthropological work within the lived experiences of Italian immigrants and their descendants living in Toronto, Canada. Italian immigrants and their descendants negotiate identity in locally specific circumstances in the greater Toronto area within the context of state-sponsored multiculturalism in Canada nad multiple diasporic discourses linking peoples in Italy and Canada. A central means of expressing this complex constellation of identities is through the construction of physical places of identification. I argue we need to pay closer attention to the reterritorialization and materialization of identity and culture to refocus work by scholars who have emphasized fluidity and movement at the expense of analysing the constitution of identities through locally-specific physical spaces (Appadurai, 1990; Hannerz, 1996; Rapport and Dawson, 1998). Further, these sites created by Italian Canadians shed light on the way people as actors work within larger structures of power to create meaningful worlds. Over the last decade governments, both in Canada and Italy, have undertaken activities and programs to adapt to the movement of people, money and ideas across borders. The Italian national and regional governments and different levels of government in Canada respond to the challenges of transnationalism by practising a kind of governmentality, a "flexible sovereignty" (Foucault, 1991; Ong, 1999, 214-216) through the support of the projects studied here. As such these projects help to discipline and regulate the behaviour and identity of Italian immigrants engaged in transnationalism.

Anthropology, transnationalism and diaspora

Anthropologists have forcefully critiqued the place-focussed concept of culture that binds cultures and peoples to specific territorial locations. This approach to understanding culture and its production is linked to Western nationalist discourse that binds nations to defined spaces or territories. Cultures, ethnic communities and nations are, however, neither clearly bounded nor unchanging (Gupta and Ferguson, 1992). As part of this critique some anthropologists have begun to examine cultures and social relations that transcend state borders (Basch et al., 1994). The great migrations of people in the last half century linked to decolonization, changes in global labour markets, financial arrangements and new communications and transportation technology have encouraged anthropologists to examine the movement of peoples as a central feature of social life (Clifford, 1997, 1988). Anthropologists seeking to find a vantage point to address the impact these changes have had on conceptualizations of culture and a manageable unit of study for face-to-face ethnographic fieldwork have turned to the study of displaced or deterritorialized migrant peoples. Some have examined the ambiguities of identity and belonging for expatriates, professionals and the managerial classes bound up in the new financial economy (Amit-Talai, 1998; Hannerz, 1996). Most anthropologists, however, are exploring the conditions of more traditional labour migrants. A major focus of work seeking to understand transnationalism has concerned the circulation of migrants, or transmigrants, between home villages in Mexico and the Caribbean basin and communities of settlement in the United States (Glick Schiler, 1992; Kearney, 1995; Rouse, 1991). Proponents of the transmigrant view suggest the era of late capitalism or Post-Fordism (Featherstone, 1990; Harvey, 1989) has created something socially and culturally new to understand because these changes permit far greater intensity of contact between people in different geographic locations within these transmigrant circuits. This intensity and diversity of contact through jet planes, the internet, fax, phones, videotapes and satellite dishes create new spaces for cultural production, making the physically distant, emotively near. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Building Italian Regional Identity in Toronto: Using Space to Make Culture Material
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.