Pakistani Immigrants in Central Brianza's Small Cities (Italy): The Ambivalence of Ethnic and Non-Ethnic Forms of Incorporation into the Catholic Social Knit of an Industrial District

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Roberta MARZORATI , Dipartimento di Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
Paola BONIZZONI , UniversitÓ degli Studi di Milano, Italy
The paper focuses on Pakistani immigrants’ social emplacement in an area of small cities in central Brianza, up north of the Milanese metropolitan area. The diffused territorial model of immigrant incorporation in Italy – with a significant presence of immigrants out of the main metropolitan contexts – and the great variability of local governance schemes, qualify such areas as an especially suitable context to inquire the relation between migrant communities and local regulatory practices. In this paper we focus on a small city – Desio – and its surroundings, belonging to an homogenous area in terms of immigrant composition, economic structure, political and cultural tradition. International migration has become relevant here since the early ‘90s: in Desio, migratory flows from Pakistan have become more and more significant, producing one of the higher concentration of Pakistani citizens in Italy. Immigrants found employment as both unskilled and specialized workers in the small, medium size factories which stretch all over the Brianza territory. Over a decade, consistently translocal networks have spread over there, most of them originating from a specific area of Pakistani Punjab. The paper aims to explore the relational everyday life emplacement of Pakistani immigrants in the local context, as it takes place trough ethnic and non-ethnic forms of incorporation shaped by regulatory practices of local administrations and non-state actors, like associations and NGOs of a catholic background. The data collected (through ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative interviews with immigrants and privileged observers) show the ambivalence of such forms of incorporation, in which different features of the immigrant population – such as status and socio-economic gaps, habits, cultural traditions and migratory paths - together with the local government practices and discourse, coalesce in defining different trajectories of immigrants’ emplacement in the local society as well as transnational social spaces and urban fields.