Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: immigration

People’s Republic of Bolzano

The People’s Republic of Bolzano is a visual journalism website by Matteo Moretti that describes the phenomenon of Chinese immigration into the local community of Bolzano in northern Italy – eg. a few km away from where I was born.


In an interview he gave in April, the author explained that “It wasn’t until Germany paid attention to the project that I got calls from local newspapers in Italy“. It just happened that a journalist from Der Spiegel published an article on this project and this Chinese community. Then “the Italian newspapers republished the story but many times were plagiarizing directly from it. But, in the end, it opened up a debate in the local community about the Chinese population“.

Last week, the project won the Data Journalism Award 2015.

Immigration and the mongrel nation

With reference to my previous post, and with the Scottish referendum on independence fast approaching it is fascinating to look at the moves of the Yes side. For me, part of my research involves an analysis of parties’ attitude towards immigrants, who may be well crucial for the outcome of the vote.

Nationalist parties in Scotland seems to be fairly enlightened in this sense. Since 1994, SNP leader and current Prime Minister Alex Salmon has repeatedly pointed to the positive contribution brought by newcomers and to the fact that diversity is not a problem. “We are proud to be part of what Willie McIlvanney called our ‘mongrel nation’. In fact, our biggest problem is not immigration, but emigration. Every year we lose talented Scots and we welcome any talented replacements from wherever they come.”

These developments are interesting if compared with other cases. In Québec’s 1995 referendum for independence, for instance, the Parti Québécois initially appealed to a broad cultural identity that included immigrants; and then, in the weeks before the vote, it shifted to a much narrower ethnic conception of collective identity. In that context, the party “increasingly made emotional appeals to ‘old-stock’ Québecers, whilst placing immigrant groups onto the ‘them’ side of the ‘us versus them’ (or French versus English) fence” (Hepburn, 2009: 520).

Massive immigration flows

I just got a message from Susanna, an old friend of mine from Dublin. She kept me updated on the life of some people we both know from our erasmus exchange – although she knows them much better than I do. Mel and Cedric got married in Nantes. Marc left Dublin where he was working and is now based in Bern. Riccardo is still in Dublin, but from September on he will be travelling between Torino, London, Paris and Switzerland for an MBA. Valentina is doing a Phd at the University of Warwick. Lucile is going to Australia for one year. Aurelle and Maxime work on the border between Germany and France. Susanna herself spent one year in Madrid and she’s now living in London.

It does not really matter whether you know the people here: it is crystal-clear that none of these have come back home. I can not assure this is all good as a development, but here’s a fact for you: the erasmus exchange programme created a generation of reckless and high-skilled immigrants eager to explore the world, or at least Europe. Get ready to cope with it.