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Event Details

Wed, May 02, 2018

18:00 – 19:00

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, Italia

A Lecture by Gaoheng Zhang, University of British Columbia, and Valentina Pedone, Università di Firenze.

Cultural understandings of contemporary Chinese migration to Italy often diverge considerably among the general public, journalists, academics, and migrants. This lecture examines a few debates and controversies that the Chinese migration has sparked in Italy in order to observe cultural processes during the country’s recent negotiation with migration and globalization. The Italian-Chinese migrant dynamics in Prato’s textile and garment sector constitute a prime case study to discuss the competing discourses and frames of Italian, Chinese migrant, and international media. The voices of Chinese migrants in Italy’s media and cultural landscapes are crucial in the contexts of Prato and elsewhere. Although the Chinese minority in Italy has long been depicted by Italian public discourse as very work-oriented and not inclined to open up to the local cultural values, there are nonetheless quite a number of artists, writers and performers of Chinese origin who create cultural products addressed to a mixed audience. These authors have to struggle to escape marginality and to be heard by the mainstream society. Their works often project multilayered identity trajectories that perfectly voice the process of cultural renegotiation that contemporary Italian society is currently undergoing, as it finally starts acknowledging its long-established multiculturalism.

In collaboration with La Pietra Dialogues.

Featured Biographies

Valentina Pedone


Valentina Pedone is Associate Professor of Chinese studies at the Department of Languages, Literatures and Intercultural Studies of  the University of Florence. She is co-editor of the book series on Chinese and Japanese studies “Florientalia” and director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Florence. In 2016 she took part in the elaboration of the official national syllabus for Chinese culture courses in Italian public schools. Her current research focuses on various aspects of Chinese migration to Italy. On this topic she published the book, A Journey to the West: Observations on the Chinese Migration to Italy (2013).

Gaoheng Zhang


Gaoheng Zhang is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies at the University of British Columbia. He is a humanities scholar of migration, mobilities, multiculturalism, media, rhetoric, ethics, masculinity, and meaning-making. His revised book manuscript, under contract with University of Toronto Press, is titled Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012, which is the first detailed media and cultural study of the Chinese migration from both Italian and Chinese migrant perspectives, as well as one of the few book-length analyses of migration and culture. His new book project, tentatively titled “Mobilities and Communications Between Italy and China Since the 20thCentury,” will offer an innovative critical framework to address Italian-Chinese relationships — the longest-standing European-Chinese exchanges in written record— by analyzing the mobile and discursive methods and effects of exiles, colonizers, (political) pilgrims, tourists, and migrants in cultural production.