Cristina Serverius invites you to attend this seminar on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Being Black in Italy: Citizenship, Identity, and Belonging in Igiaba Scego's "Sausages"

November 20, 2020

GLS - Student / Alumni Seminar - Tuesday, December 8th - 7:00 pm 

with Cristina Serverius

Via Zoom Meeting - RSVP to glsp@sfu.ca

TOPIC:

Being Black in Italy: Citizenship, Identity, and Belonging in Igiaba Scego's "Sausages"

ABSTRACT:

Since the late 1800s, Italy has been predominantly known as a country of emigration, having sent large swaths of its population abroad to other European countries and the US, Canada, Australia, and Argentina, mostly in search of the economic opportunity they found lacking at home. Since the end of the 20th century, due in part to its geographical location so close to Africa, and its colonial history and the resulting ties to Libya and the Horn of Africa, Italy has also become a country of immigration for large numbers of Africans from countries such as Somalia, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, and Eritrea. Once these "new Italians" have achieved success in their quest for citizenship, they have to confront the struggle to find a sense of belonging in a country that, because of the mere color of their skin, cannot conceive of them as Italians.

In this seminar, we will discuss a short story by Somali-Italian author Igiaba Scego, who, through a humorous reflection on food and cultural habits, explores questions of belonging and identity for Black Italians. An accompanying podcast episode delves into some of the legal context surrounding Italian citizenship to illustrate the two steps to the process described above: 1) The difficult process to citizenship even for those born in Italy; 2) The difficulty of belonging and hybrid identity in a country that for decades has perceived itself as largely ethnically homogenous. While we will focus on the Italian context, many of the explored tropes and experiences find their echo among immigrants (whether first-, second-, or even third-generation) living in other Eurocentric societies (geographically situated inside and outside of Europe).

BIO:

Cristina Serverius holds graduate degrees from Belgium, the US, and Canada, including a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Brown University and an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from Simon Fraser University. A literature scholar of the early modern period by training, her teaching and research interests transcend that restriction, and she often finds herself working in different time periods and disciplines. Right now, for example, she is teaching a course on 21st century immigrant literature in Italy. Originally from Belgium, she has lived in Italy, the US, and, currently, Canada. 

Advance Reading:

  1. Short story "Sausages" by Igiaba Scego. It is available online here: http://www.warscapes.com/retrospectives/food/sausages

  1. 30-minute podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/black-italians-fight-to-be-italian/id1050430296?i=1000486355337