Families, Lovers, and Their Letters: Italian Postwar Migration to Canada

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Univ. of Manitoba Press, 2010 - History - 192 pages
Families, Lovers, and their Letters takes us into the passionate hearts and minds of ordinary people caught in the heartbreak of transatlantic migration. It examines the experiences of Italian migrants to Canada and their loved ones left behind in Italy following the Second World War, when the largest migration of Italians to Canada took place. In a micro-analysis of 400 private letters, including three collections that incorporate letters from both sides of the Atlantic, Sonia Cancian provides new evidence on the bidirectional flow of communication during migration. She analyzes how kinship networks functioned as a means of support and control through the flow of news, objects, and persons; how gender roles in productive and reproductive spheres were reinforced as a means of coping with separation; and how the emotional impact of both temporary and permanent separation was expressed during the migration process. Cancian also examines the love letter as a specific form of epistolary exchange, a first in Italian immigrant historiography, revealing the powerful effect that romantic love had on the migration experience.

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About the author (2010)

Sonia Cancian is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow affiliated with the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. She lives in Montreal.

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