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Relations between Italy and other countries – such as China – are often imagined within a binary frame that essentialises national and ethnic communities and fails to recognise the complex transcultural ramifications of an increasingly globalising world. This is particularly problematic when studying those social and cultural spaces that Ilaria Vanni (2016) has described as transcultural edges. These are marginal spaces of transition and encounters between different cultures and societies, which have the potential to create new, innovative and productive ecosystems. We argue that one such space is Prato, an industrial town near Florence, well known for its textile district, and host to one of the largest Chinese communities in Europe. Significant academic attention has been devoted to the Chinese community in Prato, including studies of its social and economic impact on the host local community and the textile industry. Most of these studies tend to isolate the Chinese community from the ethnic complexity of the area, within a binary frame that fails to acknowledge the large presence of other migrant groups and the reciprocal permeability and transculturation between the Chinese community, the Italian community, and other ethnic groups. As part of a larger project, a group of scholars is currently digitally remapping Prato, to include quantitative and qualitative geolocalised information collected through a multidisciplinary method that includes ethnography, media analysis, translation studies, transcultural studies, and digital participatory action research. Through a brief description of the aims and characteristics of this research project, the paper will discuss the importance of rethinking the relationship between Italy and China, and between Italians and Chinese, within a more complex and nuanced transcultural frame.
Letizia de Rosa's father first arrived in Melbourne in the late 1940s as a ‘runaway’, disembarking from a ship where he was working as a bartender. According to Letizia, the working conditions on the ship were exploitative and his father's decision to leave the ship was an act of protest and perhaps even activism. Soon he found himself in a country whose language he could not speak, alone and worried about being found by the authorities:
He went and sat at the Melbourne station on the steps there and cried . . . he cried because was the loneliest moment . . . that was the loneliest moment of his life; he said he cried because he didn't know what direction he was going to go and how he would be welcome because he knew he was a run-away and really he was not welcome at all.
He decided to move to Queensland, initially to a very small town in the countryside where he hoped to avoid being found by the authorities. However, the only jobs available for him there were very hard, with terrible conditions, such as cutting cane in the rain. Finally he settled in Cairns because the day he arrived there ‘it was a sunny day . . . and Cairns was absolutely beautiful’.
Characterised as the country of gestural expressiveness and animated verbal exchanges, of Latin lovers and of operatic excess, Italy has long been seen as a domain of emotional intensity. However, this association between Italy and the emotions has tended to remain a matter for popular imagination and stereotypical representations, and it is only recently that the question of emotions has started to become a focus for scholarly investigation. This special issue has its origins in the Association for the Study of Modern Italy's 2009 annual conference, Italy and the Emotions: Perspectives from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, organised by the editors. The conference offered the first opportunity to bring together scholars of Italy working in a wide range of disciplines in order to hear from the pioneers of such research and to exchange ideas on the new insights and new lines of research being opened up by a focus on emotions. There is considerable interest in this emerging field of study in Italy, as the response to the conference demonstrated, but other than the widely known work of scholars such as Alberto Mario Banti, Luisa Passerini and Alessandro Portelli (discussed briefly below), little else has been published so far. With this issue we hope both to showcase some of the work that is being done, and to provide an impetus for further research.
Italian football is renowned as much for the passion of its spectators as it is for the quality of its players, yet these spectators are understudied. Those studies that have been conducted have generally focused on the problems of violence and racism associated with some of the more extreme supporters, the so-called ultras. This paper aims to complement that research by analysing a different aspect of the passions of Italian spectators, namely the emotional ties they create with particular players upon whom they confer a special, hero-like status. Our interest lies not in questioning the legitimacy of this status, but rather in looking at what the history of these emotional attachments reveals of the football supporters themselves, and of their relationship to the football club they support. This paper focuses on the intense relationship supporters of Associazione Sportiva Roma have had with two key players: Agostino Di Bartolomei and Francesco Totti. Drawing on a large body of texts including graffiti, newspapers, talkback radio, popular accounts and internet fan forums, along with psychoanalysis and classical mythology, the authors trace the way each of these players was granted a specific heroic status that evolved and changed over time, and how the passions they provoked became part of the ever transforming culture and identity of Rome. In particular we explore how the tales and cultural texts devoted to football players can reveal something of the emotional worlds and experiences of a city's inhabitants, and the way local memories and identities are remembered, retold and forgotten through passionate engagement with the football players who represent them on the broader national and international stage.