Maddalena Tirabassi is the Director of the Altreitalie Center on Italian Migrations, Globus et Locus, Editor in chief of the journal Altreitalie and served as Past Vice-president of the Association of European Migration Institutions.
Among her numerous publications it is worth mentioning at least Il Faro di Beacon Street. Social Workers e immigrate negli Stati Uniti, 1990. Ripensare la patria grande. Amy Bernardy e le migrazioni italiane, 2005. e Alvise Del Pra’, La meglio Italia. Le mobilità italiane nel XXI secolo, Torino Accademia University Press, 2014. ‘Le little Italy del primo Novecento’ in La storia degli italoamericani, W. Connell e S. Pugliese eds., «Introduzione» e cura dell’edizione italiana M. Tirabassi; M. Tirabassi ed., Migrazioni italiane e violenza sulle donne (Introduzione), Altreitalie, n. 60, 2020.
My presentation is based on the testimonies gathered in Il mondo si allontana? Il covid-19 e le nuove migrazioni Italiane (M. Tirabassi e A. Del Prà, Turin, Accademia University Press, 2020) by contemporary Italian migrants on the impact that Covid pandemic had on their lives during the first months of the global health crisis (March to July 2020).
In history, Italian migrants have undergone various forms of physical exclusion starting from the ethnic ghettoes in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, to the enemy alien’s camps during WWII; not to speak of the 1960’s cases of Italian children hidden in closets because regarded as ‘illegal’ in Switzerland. The pandemic hit a generation of migrants quite different from the past: they had not met discriminations or any constrictions. They are educated, used to be welcomed in schools, universities and workplaces; they mostly enjoyed freedom of movement due to the disappearing of borders among European countries, and were used to travel frequently also across the oceans thanks to low-cost fares. With the pandemic everything changed; many experienced the lockdown in small, shared apartments, in faraway countries where they were forced to remain. At first, the migrants were primarily concerned with their families in Italy and their inability to assist them; the lack of physical contact, however, contributed to strengthen transnational families’ ties. But more than anything else, in consequence of the COVID-19 crisis, modern Italian emigrants had to start rethinking their transnational lives.