Elena Benelli


Elena Benelli

Senior Lecturer

Coordinator, Italian Language Program

Office H 543.04
Tel 514.848.2424, ext. 5475

My current research focuses on Italian migrant writers and the representation of migrants in contemporary Italian cinema. In Italy migrations are a relatively new phenomenon, as the peninsula has exported over the last century millions of citizens all over the world, but was totally unprepared when, at the turn of this millennium, it became for the first time in its history a destination country for many immigrants trying to reach a better life in Europe. If, as has been noted, we live in the “Age of Migration,” * then issues related to it, such as identity, integration, migrants’ representation just to name a few, are at the core of the political, sociological and intellectual life of the country.

I address migration issues from a literary angle, and I analyze the writings of authors who are of immigrant origin (be it of first or second generation, born in Italy or elsewhere) and deconstruct homogenous representations of national Italian identity. I focus as well on Italian cinema, which has become increasingly interested in narrating the integration of migrants into Italian society. This type of cinema directly challenges the audience’s stereotypes on migrants, destabilizing their own assumptions as well as contrasting the discourse coming from the media and the state, engaging with these social issues in an innovative way.

* Castels, Stephen and Mark J. Miller. The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World, 4th Edition. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.

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