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Rural Dimension at Stake: the Case of Italian Immigrants in South Western France

Abstract : Italian immigration to South Western France, which started in the early 1920s, presents a particular modality of migrants’ integration, as the settlement of Italian newcomers had a major impact on the countryside and on local communities. The aim of the paper is to underline the specific characteristics of this massive immigration,1 especially its rural dimension, and to think through the implications of this specific case for our general insights in the integration process. The general image of this Italian migration has long been that of a successful and swift assimilation, that is the complete disappearance of the migrant group into French society. It is commonly assumed that the Italians became integrated without any tensions. Interpreting the settlement process of these Italians as a ‘miracle’ of integration, however, ignores the many difficulties and conflicts, especially during the first decades of their stay.2 These representations overshadow the harshness of the migrants’ working and living conditions, while, on the other hand, individual success stories are glorified. In a way such a reading of the past can be seen as the price migrants have to pay for their integration; the price one has to pay in order to lose one’s status as a foreigner.3 Thus, it is a manner of imposing invisibility, of tolerating nothing but accepted differences. To understand better the relations between the Italians and the indigenous French population in the South West, it is necessary to assess the reactions of public opinion at the time. Hence the presentation will emphasise a plural approach combining an analysis of both the sociological dimension and the social discourse it generated. To do so it is also essential to take into account the various systems of representations at work in southern French society.
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Contributor : Laure Teulières Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - 10:34:23 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 10:40:11 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01568323, version 1



Laure Teulières. Rural Dimension at Stake: the Case of Italian Immigrants in South Western France. David Feldman, Leo Lucassen, Jochen Oltmer. Paths of Integration: Migrants in Western Europe (1880-2004), Amsterdam University Press, pp.157-166, 2006. ⟨hal-01568323⟩



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