Italy's 'Other'
: A Study of Transnational Calabrian Identity

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis examines Calabrian ‘illegitimacy’ in the context of a dominant discourse that is dependent on the constructed superiority of both ‘whiteness’ and northern European models of ‘modernity’. It explores the way this ‘illegitimacy’ influences Calabrian self-perception and self-representation amongst those in the region as well as the Calabrian diaspora. It incorporates analysis of oral history interviews with Calabrians and Calabrian-Australians alongside mainstream literary and comedy works in order to explore what it feels like to be Calabrian, or to have Calabrian ancestry, in light of this ‘known’ ‘illegitimacy’. Responses to this ‘illegitimacy’ are mapped out through particular focus on the way participants and mainstream works frame interrelated markers: the ’ndrangheta, agropastoralism, racialised ‘otherness’, and mobility. It examines the ways in which a dominant group’s (mis)recognition of a marginal group may lead to the interiorisation by the latter of their ‘inferiority’ or ‘illegitimacy’: an interiorisation that this thesis demonstrates is evidenced through manifestations of shame and blame. Conversely, resistance to (mis)recognition is explored with reference to manifestations of pride and feelings of injustice. Calabrian identity, which has so far been largely overlooked in Italian Studies, is considered in its transnational context; prejudice and the way this influences self-perception is explored, where relevant, as a transnational phenomenon.
Date of Award22 Mar 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
  • Cardiff University
SupervisorLorendana Polezzi (Supervisor), Ruth S Glynn (Supervisor), Liz Wren-Owens (Supervisor) & Charles Burdett (Supervisor)

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