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Immigration, Identity, and Genealogy: A Case Study
Open AccessArticle

Italian Mothers and Italian-Canadian Daughters: Using Language to Negotiate the Politics of Gender

Italian Department, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Genealogy 2019, 3(2), 24;
Received: 26 February 2019 / Revised: 30 April 2019 / Accepted: 5 May 2019 / Published: 9 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy and Immigration)
This paper examines how migration redefines family narratives and dynamics. Through a parallel between the mother and the mother tongue, I unravel the emotional, linguistic, social, and ideological connotations of the mother–daughter relationship, which I define as a ‘condensed narrative about origin and identity’. This definition refers to the fact that the daughter’s biological, affective, linguistic, and socio-cultural identity grounds in the mother. The mother–daughter tie also has a gendered dimension, which opens up interesting gateways into the female condition. Taking this assumption as a starting point, I examine how migration, impacting on the mother–daughter relationship, can redefine gender roles and challenge models of femininity, which are culturally, socially, geographically, and linguistically embedded. I investigate this aspect from a linguistic perspective, through a reading of a corpus of narratives written by four Italian-Canadian writers. The movement from Italy to Canada enacts ‘the emergence of alternative family romances’ and draws new routes to femininity. This paper seeks to illustrate how, in the narratives I examine, these new routes are explored through linguistic means. The authors in my corpus use code-switching to highlight contrasting views of femininity and reposition themselves with respect to politics of gender. View Full-Text
Keywords: migration; mother tongue; femininity; patriarchy; identity migration; mother tongue; femininity; patriarchy; identity
MDPI and ACS Style

Spagnuolo, E.A. Italian Mothers and Italian-Canadian Daughters: Using Language to Negotiate the Politics of Gender. Genealogy 2019, 3, 24.

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