Nov 8, 2017 in Analysis

Italians

Italians are Southern Europe’s ethnic group primarily found in Italy.  However they have a diverse ancestry and due to this, they are found in many countries especially in Europe and the Americas. Of my particular interest are two countries; the United States of America and Brazil. In this paper, I am going to carefully examine how Italians migrated to the U. S. and Brazil and the reasons behind their immigration. I will also discuss their activities in diaspora and point out the similarities and differences of both Italian Brazilians and Italians Americans. All this will however be restricted in activities that happened in 1900s.

The Italians are an ethnic group from southern Europe. They are primarily found in Italy although a bigger number of them are found in wide ranging diasporas throughout the Americas, Australia and Western Europe.  The group’s native language is Italian and historically Italian dialects. Due to the wide ranging and long lasting diaspora, there are so many Italians or part of its ancestry today living outside Italy, an estimate of 70 million people. It is estimated that almost two-thirds of Italians in diaspora live South America, majorly in Brazil and Argentina.  About twenty (20) million of them live in North America, majorly in the United States of America.1  There are also some Italians living in Oceania, totaling to approximately one (1) million. Findings show that Italians are the most genetically diverse people in Europe having a great influence and contribution on sport, banking, science, technology, cuisine, culture and arts in countries they live and world wide in general.  

Americans of Italian descent are referred to as Italian Americans.  Italians arrived in Americas in small numbers many of them fleeing due to the failure of revolutionary movements in 1848 and 1861. Most of these Italian Americans originated from Sicily and Southern Italy as rural peasants having very little education.  In a period ranging from 1890 to 1900, approximately 655, 888 Italians arrived in the United States of America, two-thirds of who were men. The main reason behind their emigration was poor economy in Italy, specifically in southern regions. They ended up settling and dominating some specific neighborhoods (commonly referred to as “Little Italy”) in which they could interact with each other, find favorite dishes and establish proverbial cultural presence. However not all of them left for financial reasons as some of them had a spirit of adventure to tour the new world.

In contrast, a Brazilian citizen of full or partial Italian ancestry is known as Italian Brazilian. According to the Italian government, there are about twenty (25) million Brazilians of Italian descent making it the largest population of Italian ancestry found outside Italy itself. Out of this figure, only an insignificant number is recognized by the Italian legislation as Italian citizen as most of them renounced their Italian citizenship, acquiring Brazilian. Additionally, Italian women until 1948 did not transfer citizenship to descendants. The constitution of brazil states tat anyone born on brazil becomes her citizen by birth right therefore most of those who were born have become naturalized citizens of Brazil. Specifically from 1880 to 1930, there was a quite significant immigration of Italians of Brazil.  They mainly settled in areas of Southern Brazil including: Mina Geras, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Espirito Santo, and Santa Catarina which experience a temperate climate.

Earlier Italians settled in Brazil as individuals or small groups but the initial large group arrived in 1870 after the Brazilian government spearheaded by Emperor Pedro II instituted an open-door immigration policy towards Europeans particularly in 1850 after the abolishment of the traffic of African slaves in Brazil creating potential labor shortages. Most of the Italian immigrants in Brazil were majorly from Veneto, in Northern Italy4. It was until in the late 19th century between 1800 and 1900 to be precise that the boom of Italian immigration into Brazil occurred with their number almost hitting a one million mark.

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