Monthly Archives: July 2012

It’s Time to Bring Refugees Out of the Shadows and Into the Light

Amnesty International has scathing criticism for the European Union in general and Italy in particular.  According to a recent report, not only is the European Union not taking even close to their fair share of the world’s refugees , but those countries that do take them, “drop the ball”  on them.    For instance, not much is done for the refugee in Italy , once the refugee has been granted asylum—the point at which their  care ( mentally and physically) is crucial for survival.

Amnesty International

First, it might be a good idea to clarify who is a refugee.  The 1951 Refugee Convention  which the established the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) calls a refugee someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted  for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to  or owing to such fear , is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of his country.”

Currently, in Italy, refugees are coming from Libya , Eritrea and Sudan where war and extreme poverty have made living dreadful or downright impossible.  Most recently, Italy has seen the first refugees coming from Syria —two boats to the region of Calabria and one to Sicily.  Persecution, imprisonment and torture are what they flee as they are trafficked  under abhorrent conditions only to arrive (if they survive the treacherous journey) to uncertain, to say the least, futures.

Eritrean Refugees

Italy’s track record  with refugees is not a stellar one.  Remember the notorious “push-backs” ?  Italy made a deal with Ghaddafi that Libya’s refugees would be, upon reaching the Italy, sent immediately back to Libya—and a fate all the more worse since the sin of  escape would  be met with worse punishment and torture. What Libya got in return was the promise of   5 billion dollars over 20 years and a motorway on the Libyan coast.  Ghaddafi had a great time in bed with Berlusconi and his government. The awful result was that the  stuffed with the tired and sick bodies of refugees  on small boats were met in the sea and forced to turn around.  The infamous “push back.” There is talk that Italy wants to reinstitute this program.  Border control rather than rescue seems to be the Italian mandate.

On July 11th  a boat carrying 55 refugees  perished when of dehydration when their rubber boat suffered a puncture.  Their boat had originally left Tripoli in June arriving on the Italian coast but was pushed back into the sea by high winds. There was only one survivor,  found floating on a fuel containter, by Tunisian fisherman.  The survivor reported that half of the people on the boat were from Eritrea and they began the journey with no water.

Sea rescue anyone? 

As for Lampedusa, currently , conditions are manageable, though the island  was  inundated with refugees in 2011.  The death toll was high. The conditions deplorable.

A new and fair policy for refugees is overdue.  Hopefully one will emerge that is both sustainable and compassionate. Refugees are often called “shadow people.”

We need to bring refugees out of the shadows and into the light. 

‘Man is a Man With or Without Legal Documents’’ : Riace Mayor Domenico Lucano’s “City of the Future”

I am going to step out of the Sicilian context in this post to tell you about Domenico Lucano, a smart and incredibly compassionate man.  Lucano is the Sindico (Mayor) of Riace, a small seaside town in Calabria, who took a chance to try and save his town (in one of Calabria’s poorest regions) with a simple solution to the  complex  and controversial issue of immigration.  He called his project Citta Futura (The City of the Future).

Domenico “Mimmo” Lucano

With a  dwindling population  and a population of approximately 1,700 , former residents left Riace to seek life elsewhere, leaving homes empty and decrepit.    Working with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)Lucano actually began a campaign where he not only actively encouraged immigrants to come and settle in Riace, but offered them incentives as well:  a roof over their heads and sponsored work.  One of Riace’s schools, closed in 2000 for lack of students is now open and flourishing  with pupils from Africa, the Middle East and other places.

In televised interviews, Domenico Lucano is intense and passionate, often with immigrant children by his side.  He speaks eloquently of the need to do what is right, which works to everyone’s advantage . He seems to be a proud and humble man, a real man of the people , who the locals call “Mimmo”.  The new arrivals occupy the empty homes and others  are converted into workshops where some of the sponsored work takes place.

Lucano with Refugee Family. (Terraproject photo)

Approximately 230 refugees now live and work in Riace , alongside the locals who have , for the most part, welcomed them with open arms.   Even the  famous German movie director Wim Wenders has called Riace, perhaps with hyperbole, a “utopia” and has produced a 30 minute documentary called “Il Volo”, (The Flight)  which focuses on immigrants , migrants and refugees and the positive rather than negative aspects of their experience: collaboration, cohabitation and hope and a town in revival mode.

In some stories I have read, Lucano believes the Mafia does not like the success of the integration in the town because it loosens their grip there. This is unfortunate, but not surprising.  In light of this and perhaps because life everywhere these days is hard, it is probably a mistake to call Riace and their “integration model”there a “utopia.”  But, no one can argue that not only has it been wildly successful, but is now serving as a model for other towns in the region. Whether or not this model is sustainable over the long term remains to be seen, but the people who have already benefitted from it cannot be underestimated.

It should be noted that Lucano , for his work in Riace, was the second runner up in the 2010 World Mayor competition and was awarded a World Mayor commendation for passion and courage.

Domenico Lucano and Child

Nothing is perfect , but the forward thinking and compassionate Mayor, as far as innovation and pure heart go, is pretty close to it. For Lucano, who believes that ‘man is a man  with or without legal documents,’ life has found greater  meaning for so many.   Hopefully the world has taken notice and will follow his example.

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“We Are All Entitled to Inhabit This Planet With Dignity”: An Interview With Antonino Audino, Retired, Guardia Di Finanza

The particularly individual human face of immigration in Sicily is not always easy to find.  There is no lack of photographs  of what Berlusconi so astoundingly termed a “human tsunami”— humans jammed into small , rikety boats, standing in long lines,  sitting with backs against a wall as the Italian authorities make legal and moral decisions on their fate, as well as others who show the immigrant, the migrant , the refugee otherwise trying to begin their lives’.  I often wondered about the men and the women patrolling the sea, those officials who made decisions that could bestow  the opportunity of a new life to the men and women who made it to Sicily’s shores or send them back to somewhere else or, worse back where they came from. 

Antonino Audino

My thoughts and perceptions will often drive my emotions to paint a situation with a wide brush and it will take a specific encounter to set me straight.   In December of 2011 I met Antonino Audino through our mutual friend, Ramzi.  Before my trip, and at Ramzi’s urging, Antonino penned a short , but intense account of his life as both an immigrant (to Switzerland) and , later, as a member of the Guardia di Finanza during the times of the most intense periods of immigration to the island.  He encountered situations that made him often feel emotionally conflicted No matter what the political climate or the official party line on the status of immigrants, Antonino has always maintained a very deep respectful  and caring stance toward the men and women who put themselves at risk of death to make the journey across the sea.  While his immigration  situation and theirs  is as different as night and day, one thing is the same:  that desperate feeling of being , often,  not only far from home but despised and discriminated against, a discrimination often based on fear and stereotypes.

Antonino Audino, December 2011

Since December, Antonino , Ramzi and I have met many times, mostly over coffee in small café’s in Sicily where Antonino ruminates over his own experiences, and expounds on his political thoughts regarding immigrants in Italy.  He is a handsome  man,  tall and strong, fiercly  intelligent and a bit combative: he wants to be heard and hates to be misunderstood, which, unfortunately for me, happened quite a bit.   I would disagree with him and he would bristle.  I have come to realize that objectivity does not exist:  neither he nor I could escape our own point of view.  I learned so much more when I shut my mouth and listened.  And make no mistake, these conversations were so important:  Ramzi mediated between the two of  us and offered a lot of explanations, softening both  Antonino’s views and my own for each other.  He would often say “Wait!  What Antonino means. .  “ and then I would begin to see the point differently.  He did the same for me .  And then, Antonino , chin thrust upward, would say “Ahhhh. . . “

Antonino speaking to an Italian Civics class for immigrants

Antonino speaking to immigrants in Italian Civics class

The Sicilian as Immigrant in Switzerland

Antonino became an immigrant in the early  1970’s . He was deeply attached to his home in Sicily  and was stunned by life in Switzerland, what he called his “new reality.”  Along with his brothers Angelo and Giuseppe, they began the difficult work of finding a job.  Naturally, they were illegal immigrants so they found illegal work—in a hotel. After weeks of work, they were told they would not be paid since they were given a place to sleep and food.   While searching for another job, Antonino desperately tried to make sense of his new environment and quickly discovered that the Swiss harbored the same old resentments against he and his brothers, Sicilians, that so many Italian immigrants experienced in the United States: dirty mobsters and womanizers.  It was difficult for him to be thought of this way: at home  he was loved and his family was respected.   Temporary restaurant work followed , while his brother worked hard to find them a better place to live.

Tragedy far from home is often said to be a double tragedy, as Antonino would soon find out.  In October of 1972 his brother Giuseppe had been killed in a road accident.  His twin brother, Angelo, had lost his left eye and damaged his right one.  He will never forget the look in his parent’s faces as he , his brother and some friends went to retrieve them at the airport the next day.  The death of a child, no matter how old that child is, subverts the natural order of things. Life, really, would never be the same. At this point,  Antonino desperately wanted to return to Sicily, to life as he knew it. But of course, without his beloved brother, life would not be the same there, either.

The Next Stage

In 1975 due to an economic crisis, Antonino was fired from his job in Swizterland and realized that it was a good time to return to Sicily.  In retrospect he realized that his life in Switzerland had been  a wonderful learning experience. In addition, he became used to a country in which everything was “perfect and tidy,”(if a bit dull) and where things were efficient. Everything  worked in the way that one expected it to.  In Italy,  he  grappled with what he calls “ugly and difficult years”  . He returned to a country that was struggling with the terror of the Red Brigade, terrorism, and the workers’ struggle. Crime, in general, was rampant.  Life in Switzerland was rather colorless, but serene.  In Italy everything was different.  But Antonino decided to stay and do whatever he could to try and contribute to improving conditions in his country.  As it is today, finding work then, in Sicily, was not easy.  Many months of doing nothing and feeling a mounting frustration began to take their toll.  Antonino’s elder brother, Mario, suggested he take a look at enlisting in the Guardia Di Finanza, a job, at the time, not at all well-regarded by his peers; in fact, quite the opposite.

In the simplest terms, the Guardia di Finanza are the “police of the sea.” This force is responsible for dealing with smuggling and financial crime.  It is the primary force for dealing with  the drug trade . Currently they maintain over 600 boats and ships and more than 100 aircraft in order to patrol the territorial waters of Italy.

Guardia Di Finanza

Antonino began the required course of study at the prestigious School of the Guardia di Finanza Marine, based in Gaeta, a town 200 kilometers south of Rome, a place that Antonino found rich in both history and natural beauty.   Upon completion of the degree in April of 1978 with the status of Radio Operatior, he was moved into his first division: Command Naval Station Taranto.    In those years he experienced what he calls “the phenomenon of maritime smuggling of tobacco and druges from Greece and Eastern Europe.” Those were days of long nights sailing and lack of sleep, but satisfaction for a job done well.

Back to Sicily

In August of  1984 he was transferred back to the Naval Operation Section of Siracusa.  At last, back to his beloved Sicily.

It would be back in Sicliy that he would experience the heart of darkness that beats at the very center of all illegal immigration experiences. On the night of  December 26, 1988  the sea was calm and nothing extraordinary was happening. It was the feast day of Santo Stefano, a day , traditionally of lighthearted festivities. Upon leaving the port of Siracusa, they checked some small vessels, as usual.  Upon arrival at Cape Passero, they headed in the direction of the island of Malta, when something appeared on the radar: an Italian trawler sailing toward the Italian coast —about 26 miles to 219 nautical degrees from Cape Passero. Closer and with further inspection revealed dry fishing nets—usually a sign of some sort of illegal activity such as smuggling.

What they found was the attempted smuggling of about 39 Phillipino nationals. Under interrogation it was revealed that these people were illegal immigrants who had left Manila approximately 20 days before. They brought the immigrants to the barrachs of the Brigade of Finance Guardia in Portopalo , about 300 meters from the port. The staff of the State Police of Immigration had arrived as well as the magistrate on duty and other officials, but , unbelievably, it was difficult to figure out: at the time, Italy had no law in existence regarding the situation of illegal immigrants, though the crew members were under arrest for brokering the unlawful movement of illegal migranti workers for employment.  Antonino was stunned as he had never heard the words “illegal immigrant” since he was a “clandestino” in Switzerland .  Staring at the 39 faces of the new arrivals he felt a deep compassion—and immediately, his experience in Swizterland came rushing back to him.

What is so amazing about the experience that I have just described is the fact that Antonino, and presumably others, believed that what had transpired with those immigrants would be an isolated incident—he never imagined that  ti would become the future—that people would be trafficked in the same way as drugs and cigarettes—cargo packed into boats and set out to sea.  The Neopolitan journalist, Luigi Necco, upon hearing of the incident ,told Antonino that he believed it was only the beginning of a great migration. . . with flows coming especially from North and Central Africa and the Middle Middle East and that it was time to legislate.  The incident described above , as told to me by Antonino is well documented in the popular press. In the telling, Antonino bore the countenance of a man who had witnessed the beginning of something big.  He still seemed in awe of what had transpired  and indeed he should be.

Antonino retired from the Guardia di Finanza in 2009.

He cannot ever forget eyes filled with fear of the unknown, children asking for a cooki to eat, and all of the many stories scared and vulnerable trusted him with. And as a parent, too, he thinks of the mothers who had to say goodbye to their sons or daughters who only wanted a better life.  And he can never, ever forget the number who lost and continue to lose their lives’ on the journey.  He has contempt for the traffickers who have no conscience, no respect for their fellow man,especially when he recalls the swollen eyes of the cadavers that he had to recover, dying alone and without dignity, their loved ones often unaware of their fates’ , buried in unmarked graves, their hopes and dreams halted in the sea.

As a man of strong faith, a faith that has sustained him the whole of his life, he is philosophical about his experience and has come to realize that we are all more the same than we are different in our humanity. Man is sacred and we all have the right to inhabit the planet with dignity.

The talks between me , Ramzi and Antonino will continue.  We have a deep respect for one another and a lot to share about our immigration experiences.  When I talk to Ramzi and Antonino I realize how much there is to learn.  And Antonino , himself, credits his often heated  (but good natured) discussions  with Ramzi as the starting point for learning about difference and acceptance and to challenge his own views.

The perilous journey

Because Antonino is a thinking and feeling man,  I am not surprised when he tells me, “I often walk the promenade at the  sea and look out.  My thoughts almost always go to the ones I found there.”

Nota Bene:

Antonino told me so many stories that to recount them all here, in this  one post, would not do any of them justice.  I plan on posting on this topic again.

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Quelli Che Bruciano la Frontiera (Those Who Burn the Border): An Interview With Pocket Poetry Orchestra’s Biagio Guerrera

The first time that I heard the music of the Pocket Poetry Orchestra, based in Catania, Sicily,  I felt transported somehow, to a different emotional  place.  Their CD,  Quelli Che Bruciano la Frontiera contains  incredibly evocative music  interspersed with  spoken word. The music is both melodic and discordant and at once cerebral and accessible. I have listened to this CD over and over and over again.  I like its sound.  It’s sensibility.

My favorite piece is Chiddu, “that one” in Sicilian, the implication being of one set off on the side, the one pointed at the one who does not belong: the clandestino; the criminale.  I spoke with Biagio Guerrera, one of the members of the orchestra, who shared with me the group’s beginnings, the importance of embracing the cultures of Sicily and the immigration situation on the island.

Biagio Guerrera

How did Pocket Poetry Orchestra come about?

Pocket Poetry Orchestra is the natural development of our first project with the Tunisian poet Moncef Ghachem. In 2000, Costanza Ferrini at that time was still in the crew of  group Mesogea and she told me about Moncef as a poet with a great personality, a good voice and a strong live “presence”. I was in contact with the band Dounia (3 guys from Catania and Faisal Taher from Palestine at vocals) and so we had the idea to invite Moncef for a reading. It was supposed to be a one night show, instead a long path started from that experience. Moncef is known for his French poetry but in our meetings i discovered that he wrote in dialectal Tunisian too. As I write in Sicilian and am very interested in minor languages and oral poetry ,etc I  had the idea of translating the Tunisian into  Sicilian . So in the first publication of Moncef and Dounia there is this Tunisian poem translated in Sicilian “Lambuca”. After years of collaboration the guys of Dounia decide to take a break from the band.  I, on the other hand, wanted to amplify the musical colors of the band, and that is how the Pocket Poetry Orchestra project started with the 4 Douni members, plus Marina Borgo, virtuoso marimba player, and Stefano Zorzanello winds and electronics. I have to thank Riccardo Gerbino, the percussion player, that was very positive in the first work and that invented with me this new name. After 2 or 3 years of work at last, we published the CD Quelli Che Bruciano la Frontiera.

Pocket Poetry Orchestra

Talk about the song Chiddu:

In this work the presence of Tunisian/Sicilian poems is important and Chiddu is a sort of manifesto of this work because he speaks of immigrants, an experience that Sicilian people knew very well in the recent past and that Tunisian people knows very well today. I do not know Tunisian or Arabic, so Monecf and I sat close together, speaking in French or a little English.   He translated the poem from me into French and explained the meaning to me.   I translated it into Sicilian with some notes in Italian. Then I worked alone, but when i had some questions I asked Moncef of course. It is a translation, but it is a sort of re-creation of the poem in another language, too. It is a live dialogue between two poet friends and between two cultures; close and different at the same time.

Moncef Ghachem

Chiddu is a moving Tunisian poem from Moncef Ghachem, but we feel that it speaks universally about the suffering of immigrants. Quelli Che Bruciano la Frontier (Those who burn the borders) is the literal translation of the Arab word harraga that is used for the illegal immigrants that cross the Mediterranean Sea in old and dangerous boats.

New Arrivals

It is our sentiment that  poems and music, too ,can “illegally” travel across the sea and find a new, common life together.  Our project started before the Jasmine Revolution when no one could imagine the end of Bel Ali (Tunisia), Gheddafi(Libya) or Mubarak(Egypt) . We cannot change the world, of course, but we can point out some way of living and feeling… and we strongly believe that we have a lot in common between the two sides of the sea.

What is the feeling in Sicily about immigration and refugees these days?

In Sicily or in Spain a great civilization was built in the past thanks to the cross meetings of Christians, Muslims and Jews. In Sicily nowadays there are a lot of immigrants. Generally speaking, in my opinion, the public institutions and the Italian government, especially under Berlusconi, fed the people a lot of racist propaganda about immigration.  Bad laws were passed and   even a criminal agreement with Gheddafi was signed.  The reality is that Italy needs workers from the south of the world but instead of choosing a legal a rational way for immigration we have chosen a propagandist way.  The result is a lot of illegal business, violence, slavery and illegal work. Then the centers that opened to house immigrants were a great business for some people who received enough money to open a five-star hotel, but instead housed the poor immigrants in horrible conditions.

Carabinieri guarding the new arrivals

In Sicily we have of course a long tradition of the melting-pot. Sicily is the result of different domination at different times, immigrations and cultures. So people, in a way, are naturally open but in another way are also full of prejudices. In my town , Catania ,for example ,the big popular markets became a space of work and integration between the different communities, and it is good that they are not  in the area of the town that are inhabited by members of just one  community. Then the different communities have different attitudes: Chinese people work in shop commerce, black Africans in street commerce, people from the Maghreb in the greenhouses, people from Mauritius or Sri Lanka as waiters or in cleaning homes, etc.  So clearly there is a lot of work that still has to be done, but I believe that no one can stop the process of mixing cultures.

Thank you, Biagio!

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Immigration: An Up Close and Personal Account

“If they can get here, they have God’s right to come.”—Herman Melville

Perhaps belonging, that sense of knowing, with your heart and soul that you are in the right place, both literally and figuratively, has been a preoccupation of mine for as long as I can remember. And I have come to realize that I am nothing, if not my preoccupation.

I come from, thankfully, an accepting, loving  and gracious family— people who would rather die than think they’d made anyone, for any reason, feel unwelcome or unwanted.  My parents were, and still are, civic-minded and kind to a fault and my siblings and I were raised in the very same tradition.  And so  immigration sets alarm bells off in my head and gives me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Not because I oppose it—far from it— I believe that human beings should be allowed to cross borders, but rather because I understand, all too well, the inherent pain, fear, displacement and lack of dignity inherent in trying to build a life of safety and dignity in a place far from your home.

No, I am not an immigrant.  But I have had close associations from earliest childhood with Italian immigrants.  Indeed, my grandparents were immigrants and every Italian –American stokes the family lore of who came over, the reasons why and under what conditions.  My family is no different.  It is not exceptional, but rather it is the background music to my life.  The stories are so woven into the very fabric of who I am,  that I  scarcely, really,  take notice:  this is who I am; this is whom I come fromPeriod.   Or is it?

I grew up in a predominantly Italian-American town, a suburb of Philadelphia.   My parish was predominantly Italian and Italian-American as was the patron saint we revered: San Francesco de Paola.  Nearly all of the immigrants in my town came from the same place in Calabria.  In fact, my father’s mother came from that town and my grandfather came from Palermo.  Our traditions were Italian. Anything not Italian was ‘merican!  We stood out, even in a town where we were the majority.  My sense of belonging was thick and deep.  I would not have wanted to be raised any other way.  My traditions  sustain me.   I remain grateful.  But there was another side to it all. To be Italian-American is to have one foot in and one foot out of the culture.  Which culture?  Both. The unspoken sentiment was to be of the American culture, but separate from it, too.  A difficult thing to do, indeed.

In the early ‘70’s Italian immigration to the United States was fast and furious.  Many students in my parochial grade school were Italian immigrants.  In my class alone, perhaps two –thirds were from Italy. Dropped into class the day after their arrival in the US.  They all bore the same look:  scared and clueless— their clothes a bit different.  Their lunches were strange—they brought egg and pepper sandwiches, wrapped in tinfoil and over ripe bananas—this in contrast to our luncheon meat sandwiches on white bread and Fritos.   Few spoke any English at all. They were largely left in the schoolyard alone, and in class stared straight ahead with their hands folded.  They were taunted by our teachers in class—often in sly and subtle ways,  but often , too, with  blatant cruelty. Nobody wanted to play with them.   They were Italian.  But we were Italian-American.  I do not ever remember a year from first to eighth grade when I did not have Italian immigrants in my class.  By the eighth grade, they spoke English and were pretty well integrated.  Immigration seemed to have slowed down. But there would be others.

And while the immigrants that I grew up with experienced their fair share of discrimination and exclusions, those of us who were children and grandchildren of immigrants felt it too.  To some extent, I still do. To be Italian-American, means to be, somehow, anti-intellectual; to be overly excitable, hands waving when telling a story; to be loud, greasy, ignorant, spaghetti twirling, Mafia lovers.  And just as my teachers in grade school would slip in their sly insults to the Italian kids, I, too, have experienced the same derisive comments, the insults veiled as “just joking around,” my entire  life, as have my parents, and their parents before them.  This, too, has been woven into the fabric of Italian-American lives’.  I often wonder if there is a single one amongst us who hasn’t had the experience. I could devote my whole life to the writing of this subject alone and never exhaust myself of material.

My grandfather, Leonardo,  was from a small hamlet in the province of Palermo.  He never, ever wanted to come to this country, and so  remained bitter until the end of his life.  He spoke perfect Italian, Sicilian and good, but heavily accented English.  He was a shoemaker.  He came to the United States with his mother fleeing an extortion attempt by the dreaded  “Black Hand,” (in Sicily  “A Manu Niura”). As well, at the time, Mussolini was taxing unmarried men.  It was the perfect storm.   My great-grandfather was already in the United States, working to eventually return to Sicily with money. Of course, it never happened.  Soon all three were living in what would be my beloved  hometown—-the few Sicilians amongst a majority of Calabrese immigrants, most of whom were relegated by  to homes in neighborhoods on the edges of town where they lived with African-Americans, most of whom had arrived in the east from the south.  These neighborhoods remain to this day, a testament to two “fringe” groups who lived , for the most part, harmoniously, side by side.

What does all of this have to do with immigration, migration and social justice in the Sicilian context? Well, for me, a lot.  Our interests take hold early and that interest will grow and grow  until it cannot be ignored.

My interest in immigration and migration in general, and Sicily, specifically, grows out of a deep and abiding belief in the human dignity and basic human rights for everyone. Consider this:  if I should mail a box of  laptop computers to Sicily, that box of electronic equipment would be treated with more respect and  care , in fact, possess  more rights and protection  than an actual human being trying to cross a border with just the clothes on his back.  And if you can stop and allow yourself to really think about that, it is a sobering thought, for sure.

I thought it might be somewhat illuminating for me to self disclose a bit as to my interest on my subject here.   We are, after all, our preoccupations.  While my investigation of immigration in the Sicilian context may seem a bit irregular, and, indeed, a bit haphazard, I can assure you it is an assiduous and serious interest of mine, one that I only become more and more entrenched in.  I continuously form questions in my mind about immigration and social justice.  I travel to Sicily. I work and observe.  This is my own method, my heuristics, my way of investigation and knowing.  I do not aim to arrive at conclusions, per se, but a validation of meaning and experience. And the process is continuously ongoing.

It is important for me to see and understand all aspects of immigration in reverse and in context.   Sempre Sicilia is a place for me to share, with you, what I find.   As always, thanks for reading.

Nota Bene:

For a scholarly though highly readable investigation into the lives’ of Italian-Americans, I would like to recommend Blood of My Blood: the Dilemma of the Italian Americans by Richard Gambino.  I have not read anything before or since, that illuminates the realities of Italian-Americans as portrayed in this book, while shining a light on the inherent and often brutal realities of making it in a new land

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