Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
When we first began talking with this Senegalese family over twenty years ago we
communicated in French and they were struggling to navigate the local social and polit-
ical landscape with the help of mediators with knowledge and connections to represent-
ative organizations in the local government, church, and trade unions. After an initial
period of uncertainty when they struggled for basic housing, residence documents, and
health care, they became more settled in Turin, making connections with Italian advoc-
ates and Senegalese in leadership positions with the trade unions or associations. They
learned to follow national and local political developments in Italy and in Senegal, and
to identify local political leaders whom they pass on the street. Their cooking now com-
bines elements of Senegalese and Italian cuisine, although they are able to obtain many
of the ingredients they use for Senegalese cooking from a local Chinese owned grocery.
and Senegalese sports competitions and music videos in French or Wolof. The Présence
Africaine is of course very strong for these members of the new African Diaspora who
lived in Senegal for some twenty years and maintain continual exchanges with their
countries of origin via television, telephone, networks with other Senegalese in Europe,
and deliveries via family and compatriots. Yet during the past several years coolness
and even hostility toward the visibly non-Italian and non-European sanctioned by the
nativist rhetoric of the Lega and white spatial imaginary now generated throughout the
country has become acceptable practice. In this context, they don't really choose to dis-
tance themselves from Italian society. When asked about their national identities, they
haveforsometime readily self-identified asboth“Italian” and“Senegalese.” Malikhad
already defined himself in part as European prior to his arrival in Italy, having been
educated in French language, history, and culture and from a country where the long
duréeofFrenchcolonialism permeatesmanydomainsofquotidianlife.Yettoday,when
they walk out the door of their apartment and through Italian streets, piazzas, and mar-
kets, and use public transportation, they frequently experience microaggressions (Mer-
rill 2004). They are often glared at, especially when wearing African clothing. In these
racialized, Italianized spaces where there is tremendous anxiety about the loss of a dis-
tinctive cultural identity, difference is not allowed. Sadly, these Senegalese have turned
wish to return to Senegal where life is so much better than in Italy because people treat
them with respect and hospitality. They focus even more today than in the past on gain-
ing status via Senegalese networks.
Italy is widely represented by Europeans as the birthplace of Western Civilization, the
epicenter from which intellectual, artistic, political, and economic leadership flourished
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