Hip Pop Italian Style

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Hip Pop Italian Style
18
The Postcolonial Imagination
of Second-Generation Authors in Italy
Clarissa Clò
I
s there a postcolonial imagination in Italy today, and if so, what does it look
like? The last two decades have witnessed a growing body of literature produced
in Italy by migrant writers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.
Since the 1990s, they have enriched Italian culture and language with their contributions, even though their input has not been without contention.1 Yet this production has continued to grow with an increasing degree of experimentation in
a variety of genres and media, including critical interventions in online journals,
forums, blogs, and websites.2 This essay focuses on the literature of second-generation postcolonial writers collected in the anthologies Pecore Nere (Black Sheep,
2005) and Italiani per vocazione (Italians by Vocation, 2005), as well as on the creative work of the network Rete G2. While illuminating the impact and flaws of the
current immigration and citizenship legislation, these authors offer an alternative, multiethnic, and multifaceted representation of Italy through astute aesthetic
choices rooted in hip hop and popular culture.3 They are “experts” who transfigure
their “street knowledge” into literature and art and are perhaps the best suited to
critique the legal system because, unlike Italian (white) citizens, they have a firsthand knowledge of its workings and material consequences. Their analysis of Italian culture is particularly insightful because they access it from the vantage point
of a diasporic sensitivity, one that is simultaneously Italian and international.
While some second-generation youths are already Italian citizens, for the
majority citizenship is a distant mirage. Italy has a very restrictive citizenship legislation based on jus sanguinis (i.e., blood, lineage, and race) so that, even when they
are born and raised in Italy, children of immigrants are considered by law immigrants themselves.4 The extent of the prejudice of this legislation based on descent
10.1057/9781137281463preview - Postcolonial Italy, Edited by Cristina Lombardi-Diop and Caterina Romeo
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