Local attachments and transnational everyday lives: second-generation Italians in Switzerland and in Italy

by Susanne Wessendorf

Working Papers WP 09-07
June 2009
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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Many descendants of migrants grow up in the context of lively transnational social relations to their parents’ homeland. Among southern Italian migrants in Switzerland, these relations are imbued with the wish to return among the first generation, a dream fostered since the beginning of their migration after the Second World War. Second-generation Italians have developed different ways of negotiating the transnational livelihoods fostered by their parents on the one hand, and the wish for local attachments on the other. Drawing on long-term, multi-sited fieldwork in southern Italy and Switzerland, this paper discusses how the children of Italian migrants have created their own cultural repertoires of Italianità and belonging within Switzerland and with co-ethnic peers, and how, for some, this sense of belonging evokes the wish for ‘roots-migration’, the relocation to the parents’ homeland.

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