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Italophilia meets Albanophobia: paradoxes of asymmetric assimilation and identity processes amongst Albanian immigrants in Italy

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King, Russell; Mai, Nicola

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Abstract This paper discusses what we call the 'Albanian assimilation paradox'. Since arrival in 1991, Albanians have become one of the most 'integrated' of all non-EU immigrant groups in Italy, based on their knowledge of Italian, geographical dispersion, balanced demography, employment progress, and desire to remain in Italy. Yet they are the nationality most rejected and stigmatised by Italians – stereotyped as criminals, prostitutes and uncivilised people. Based on 97 interviews with Albanians in three cities in Italy, we explore the multifaceted dimensions of their patchy assimilation. Although the hegemonic negative framing of Albanians by Italian media and public discourse plays a major role, other elements of the picture relate to Albanians' complexly shifting identities, framed both against and within this discourse (and hence both resisting and internalising it), and against changing concepts of Albanian national and diasporic identities derived from ambiguous perceptions of the national homeland.
Keywords assimilation; integration
Classification Migration, Sociology of Migration
Free Keywords Albanian migration; Italy; identity; stigmatisation
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 117-138
Journal Ethnic and Racial Studies, 32 (2008) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)