School of Humanities

Alessia Dipalma Abstract

Identitá a tavola: a preliminary analysis of conversations among “new” Italian migrants in Australia

Although Italian migration to Australia has been studied extensively for its socio-economic, cultural and linguistic aspects, most of the literature refers to the post-war mass migration years and does not take into account more recent waves of migration. As I will argue in this paper, however, in the last decade or so, a new flow of migrants arrived in Australia and this phenomenon, although small from a quantitative perspective, appears to be qualitatively significant and innovative. Since the end of mass migration (1970s), in fact, many factors have modified the image of both the country of origin and the host country:  Italy, on one side, has become an economic power and an advanced country. Its linguistic setting has also undergone a profound change and dialects are losing more and more ground with respect to Italian. On the other side, Australia has faced an even more radical shift, moving from the assimilationist policy of the post-war era to a multicultural approach to immigration. Moreover, new technologies have somehow reshaped the concept of migration itself, contributing to create a “transnational” space for the migrants to feel at home. My paper aims to capture these new dynamics by looking at them through the metaphorical lens of conversation analysis: I have observed and recorded, using instead the material lens of a video camera, dinner conversations among a group of so-called “new” Italian migrants in Perth (Western Australia) and in this paper I will propose a case study, part of a broader research project, that will allow preliminary observations on the phenomenon. Applying the paradigm of interactional sociolinguistics and embracing the newest trends in identity studies, I will provide an analysis of the identity work done by the speakers in every-day conversation.

Author Biography

Alessia Dipalma is in the second year of her PhD at the University of Western Australia. She obtained a Bachelor and a Master degree in Classics from the Universita’ degli Studi di Milano, Italy, specialising in Latin sociolinguistics. In 2010 she started a PhD on the recent Italian migration to Australia, applying to a different field, Italian studies, the research interest into the social and psychological aspects of language developed in her classical background.

Seminar 14 June, 2011