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Understanding the Immigration Experience

Professor’s award-winning book explores immigration from an Italian perspective

Posted in: Social Sciences

Teresa Fiore

Immigration has become an increasingly hot button issue that makes daily headlines both in the United States and abroad. Teresa Fiore is an associate professor of Italian and Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State, which boasts an Italian program ranked among the nation’s 10 largest by the Modern Language Association. She is also the author of Pre-Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy’s Transnational Migrations and Colonial Legaciesa timely exploration of the Italian migration experience that has garnered international attention and acclaim.

Pre-Occupied Spaces explores Italy’s formation and development on a transnational map through a cultural analysis of travel, living and workspaces as depicted in literature, films and music. By demonstrating how immigration in Italy today is “pre-occupied” by its past emigration and colonialism, Fiore redefines national belonging in an era of massive global demographic mobility

The insights and learnings in this book are relevant to today’s national and global immigration concerns. “I talk about what the newspapers are talking about in terms of migration these days but provide a historical and cultural context that offers new perspectives beyond the typical sense of fear, emergency and crisis,” Fiore explains.

As Fiore sees it, today, Italy and the United States are facing similar immigration issues – from border closings to viewing immigrants as a burden. “Such belittling and exclusion only compounds problems by creating divisions and a deeper sense of frustration,” she says.

During the course of writing Pre-Occupied Spaces, she expanded its focus to include a response to the larger contemporary immigration situation. “What I didn’t know when I started writing is that the issue of immigration would become so central. Today, more than ever, we need to take an attentive, informed and sensitive look at immigration in all its complexities – from displacement to forging transnational identities.”

Since its publication in 2017 by Fordham University Press, Pre-Occupied Spaces has resonated with critics and readers alike. It was awarded the 2017 American Association of Italian Studies Book Prize in the 21st-century category and was one of five finalists for the prestigious international 2018 Bridge Book Award. In December, it received an Honorable Mention for the Modern Language Association Howard R. Marraro Prize in Italian Literature.

In 2019, Fiore will be following her well-received book presentations at institutions such as Columbia University and Duke University with appearances at the Universitá di Palermo in Italy and Ohio’s Miami University. She will also visit Ohio State University as a Scholar-in-Residence.

Learn more about Pre-Occupied Spaces and Teresa Fiore: