“Italiani made in China”: Defining ‘Italianness’ in second generation Chinese-Italians. by Dr CHIARA GIULIANI
5 p.m. Wednesday 16th November 2016 in ORB 1.24, UCC.
In June 2015, the Italian TV channel Real Time launched a new programme entitled Italiani made in China. This docu-reality follows the one-month journey to China of six young Chinese-Italians ‘to discover their roots’. The protagonists, either born in Italy or arrived to the peninsula at a very young age, meet their relatives and challenge their knowledge of Mandarin and of Chinese culture. More importantly, as the voice-over often reminds the viewers, they will discover ‘to which degree they are Italian’, a definition process often based on the affirmation of their differences with the ‘real Chinese’. This paper analyses the way this experience is narrated to an Italian audience, the reception of the show and the selection of cast and format, to investigate the extent to which Italiani made in China contributes to the wider discourse on the presence of the Chinese community in Italy. By using this TV show as a paradigmatic example, the paper will examine how notions of ‘Italianness’ are used to understand and sometimes justify the complex and problematic relationship between Italians and Italy’s resident Chinese community in which the youngest generations of Chinese-Italians play a pivotal role.
CHIARA GIULIANI obtained her PhD from the University of St Andrews with a thesis entitled Negotiating Home Spaces: Spatial Practices in Italian Postcolonial Literature; her doctoral research investigated the role of space in Italian postcolonial literature (especially in the novels of Lakhous, Scego and Kuruvilla), exploring the ways in which the absence of home leads to the creation of a multiplicity of home spaces. Her research interests comprise postcolonial theory, cultural geography, geocriticism and migration studies.
Her current project investigates the cultural and economic relations between Italy and China and particularly how these influence the cultural representation of Chinese-Italian citizens.