Oxford, 10 November 2022

This workshop, organised by Italian Studies at Oxford in collaboration with the Center of European Studies at the University of Verona, aimed at promoting a dialogue between scholars currently researching on Italian early emigration and leading experts in the field, in particular focusing on the case of emigrants moving from Sicily to Louisiana between 1865 and 1910.

Sponsored by the John Fell Fund of the University of Oxford, the Society for Italian Studies and the Association for the Study of Modern Italy, the workshop saw the presentation and discussion of four position papers focusing on different aspects of Sicilian early emigration to Louisiana.

Jessica Barbata Jackson (Colorado State University) reconsidered the experience of Italian immigrants in post-civil war Louisiana, in particular introducing the idea of ‘racial transiency’ to describe their unique status as ‘white’ or ‘non-white’ before and after the 1891 lynching.

Guido Bonsaver (Oxford) introduced the main features of Sicilian emigration to Louisiana, pointing out the advantages of focusing on the circumscribed case of New Orleans to identify trends which can be beneficial for the study of the wider phenomenon of Italian emigration to the USA.

Lauren Braun-Strumfels (Cedar Crest College) and Clara Zaccagnini (Roma Tre) focused on the case of the detention of Italian immigrants who reached New Orleans in 1904 onboard of the NGI ship Liguria, and in particular on the role played by labour agent Arturo Dell’Orto.

The role of agents of migration was also assessed by Alice Gussoni (Oxford), who highlighted the need to bridge the gap between Italian and American scholarship and to explore the activities of the agents of migration both in Sicily and in Louisiana in order to provide a comprehensive study of the phenomenon.

After a brief introduction from the speakers, the papers were then discussed by four experts: Brian A’Hearn (Oxford), Donna Gabaccia (Toronto), Stefano Luconi (Padua), Matteo Pretelli (Naples – L’Orientale), who gave useful insights and raised crucial questions, showing the importance of keep researching on the still overlooked case of early Italian migration from Sicily to Louisiana.

The event, despite its workshop format, was well-attended, both in person and online, with a total of more than 40 people following it.