Meriel Tulante

Wolf Humanities Center Regional Fellow

20212022 Forum on Migration

Meriel Tulante

Associate Professor of Italian Studies, Thomas Jefferson University

Meriel Tulante is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at Thomas Jefferson University, where she is also the Program Director for the Hallmarks Core for General Education. Her research is centered on post-WWII Italy and particularly the ways in which the nation has been imagined through different forms of cultural production. Much of her work has focused on the novelist Sebastiano Vassalli, about whom she recently published Italian Chimeras: Narrating Italy through the Writing of Sebastiano Vassalli (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2020). The reimagining of Italy as a nation is also a subject of her investigations into postcolonial authors and narratives in Italian with migration or intercultural encounters at their center. A further area of research interest is the intersection between Italian fashion and film and the way in which these forms of creative expression and cultural commentary participate in the reflection and formation of a national identity.

Somali-Italian Migration in the Novels of Igiaba Scego and Cristina Ali Farah

My project for the 2021-2022 Penn Humanities Forum is to examine of the representation of migration in the works of two Italo-Somali writers, Igiaba Scego and Ubah Cristina Ali Farah. These authors interrogate both Italy's colonial legacy and the realities of migrant lives in Italy. Their narratives focus on women and their experiences as they navigate lives that are lived across cultures in contemporary Italy. In particular, I explore the funeral in the piazza Campidoglio for thirteen Somalis who had drowned at sea off the coast of the island of Lampedusa while attempting to cross the Mediterranean, which features in both authors’ texts. I examine theoretical approaches to the content and treatment in these accounts: the semiotics of political gestures, recognition of colonial trauma, postcolonial acts of rewriting.