Identity Transformations in Migratory Processes: The Fluid Belonging of a Canadian with Slovenian-Italian Roots
The article reflects the identity transformations in the life story of Anne Urbancic, a long-term professor of Italian at the University of Toronto. The reconstruction of her story is based on an interview aimed to elucidate her complex immigrant heritage and on various publications about her cultural identity in Canada. Her accounts emerging over the last two decades demonstrate identity as a constantly evolving process, stemming a great deal from the internal perception of the outer world. In these terms, her humanistic mindset and sharpened social sensibilities turned out to be of utmost importance.
KEYWORDS: Canada, Slovenians, migration, identity, life story
The article is a biographical attempt to explain the fluidity of Anne Urbancic’s ethnic identification. She is a daughter of Slovenian parents, who originated in the Julian March and immigrated post-war to Canada. Anne considers herself Canadian, Italian, Slovenian, and Slovenian Littoral, yet over time she has changed the intensity of these identifiers. The reconstruction of Anne’s story is based on various sources, including a life-story interview conducted by the author in 2012 and Anne’s own scientific attempts to understand her multilayered identification process. When Anne analyzes the identity of her parents, her remembering is mainly related to the collective memory of the Littoral Slovenians during fascism, and somewhat modestly to the memory of the post-war Yugoslav authorities who stimulated the flight of her father, a politically aware Slovenian and Catholic. However, when she talks about her mother’s daily practices (preparing food, listening to music, singing songs, shopping habits), the mentioned cultural codes are already more elusive in an ethnic sense, exhibiting both Slovenian and Italian features. The article also points to the great importance of the mother’s (woman’s) perspective, which enables the inclusion of everyday life in the reflection on identity and thus conveys a significantly less politicized and ethnocentric identity of Littoral Slovenians than would appear from the father’s story alone. The mother’s perspective also offers more convincing arguments to explain why Anne, the daughter of Littoral Slovenians, so strongly took on the Italian identity.