Gender, Ethnicity and Power: Identity Formation in Two Italian Organisations of London

Fortier, Anne-Marie. 1996. Gender, Ethnicity and Power: Identity Formation in Two Italian Organisations of London. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is the study of two Italian organisations in London and their role in constructing an Italian 'community', at a time when the Italian population is fragmented and dispersed. In order to understand the languages of solidarity expressed in the two research settings, I use the concept of 'identity formation' and show that institutional practices of identity combine competing definitions to project meaning onto the indeterminate character of the Italian population of London. The essence of my argument is that within these settings, new forms of identity are developing which defy simple notions of 'community' and continuity based on a primary ethnicity. Similarly, models of radical pluralism are inadequate to grasp the complex articulation of roots and routes in the formation of group identities for immigrant populations.

Languages of solidarity, in the two organisations, are generated by a group of claims about the historical, political and cultural presence of Italians in Britain. Multiple meanings group around the central symbol of (e) migration, representing a combination of essentialist and pluralist tendencies. Foundational ideas of national culture intersect with a diasporic consciousness of multi-local ties, trans-national networks and displacement, generating new geographies of identity that break open the seams of national boundaries.

London Italian subjectivity is highly localised in relation to the family. Though emphatically patriarchal, the Italian emigrant family is represented as decidedly post-national: it constitutes a stage for the rehearsal of ethnicity, at a time when the nation is no longer the site and frame of memory.

The relationship between family and cultural continuity is mediated through generations, while authenticity is configured around gender. Definitions of local particularity are drawn from deeply held ideas about gender differences and sexual behaviours, which provide some form of ontological security that fixes the relationship between family, ethnicity and community.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Gender, Ethnicity, Power, Italian organisations in London, Identity formation



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Date Deposited:

29 Jun 2020 15:55

Last Modified:

29 Jun 2020 15:55


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