Gender Identities and Cultural Values in Multiethnic Families in Italy

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 7:00 PM
Room: 302
Distributed Paper
Isabella CRESPI , Dipartimento di Scienze della formazione, dei beni culturali e del turismo, University of Macerata, Macerata, Italy
Living in a multiethnic family is a challenge that implies that the couple, the families of origin and the broadest social context allow and facilitate the possibility of combining differences and negotiation as best as possible. These families are a micro example of what is the meaning of living in a multicultural society nowadays at the macro level. Differences and similarities are played everyday in the life-course of the couple and their families and requires the entire family group itself (including previous generations) redefines the overall arrangement of cultural equilibrium: it becomes necessary to rethink relational dynamics, but especially to reconsider the hierarchies of values, both individual and familial, due to the different cultural belonging of the partners. Negotiation, therefore, is also about compromise, recognition and respect of differences, openness to dialogue and communication. The family dynamics of mixed couples are based on a continuous negotiation of the partners’ historical and cultural differences. Identity is perceived as a set of “experiences of recognition, which allows each individual to recognise themselves over time and which no individual can disregard. They also require the creation of a new gender culture, able to turn difference into a valuable asset, which helps promote open minds and acceptance of the other. The paper shows the results of a research project which investigates 35 multiethnic families (with life stories collected for each partner 70 in total) living in the centre of Italy. In particular, the paper focuses on some specific questions: what connections can be identified between negotiation and conflict of reciprocal identities in the family life of multiethnic couple? How do cultural and religious values affect family and personal identity? What is the relevance of cultural and familial belonging for the partners when they begin their life together? How and if this changes during life-course?