On Sept. 13, 2023, Dr. Teresa Fiore, Professor of Italian and Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, was invited to give a talk at the YMCA of Montclair as part of Welcoming Week, an annual event celebrating diversity and inclusion.
Titled “Transnational Italy: Migrants Leaving Towards and Returning from New Jersey,” the talk provided an overview of the Italian diaspora worldwide to then focus on the immigration flows to the U.S., and New Jersey in particular, where Italian Americans still constitute a sizable slice of the local population. The talk offered a reading of Leonardo Sciascia’s “The Long Crossing,” about human trafficking and the ironic fate of a group of migrants trying to travel from Sicily to Trenton. It also addressed the vibrant milieu of anarchist factory workers in Paterson to show the transnational linkages between labor activists in Italy and the U.S., and touched upon the Sacco and Vanzetti case and its legacy in the Italian American community.
The audience, made up primarily of senior members of the community, contributed to a lively Q&A about the relationships between Italian Americans and African Americans, the representation of Italian Americans in film and on TV, and the reasons for the loss of the Italian language in the community. The exchange produced interesting connections to the present time with reference to illegal smuggling of immigrants as well as labor activism today.
“We were very happy to include Dr. Fiore’s presentation in our program not just because the topic of her research was relevant to Welcoming Week, but also because it represented yet another form of collaboration between YMCA and Montclair State University to promote community engagement,” Jen Grisafi stated (Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager and top left in the photo.