Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Italian and Italian-American Families Today: A Comparative Perspective

Dr. Carmela Pesca.

This paper identifies and compares the cultural implications of the changing Italian and Italian-American families. It analyzes correspondences, divergences and interrelations between them, with particular regard to women roles and gender relations.
On the one hand, a significant transformation has characterized the Italian family in the last thirty years. Within a fast social and economic modernization, family hierarchies and rules have been generally questioned. Birth and marriage rates have fallen, and family structure and functions have radically changed; yet the image of the Italian family persists anchored to its traditional values, at least in some aspects.
On the other hand, massive migrations from Italy to the United States were already over in the '70s. By that time, Italian-Americans had partially incorporated the American family style in the Italian traditional model prevailing before their relocation, and before recent transformations in Italy. Nonetheless, Italian-Americans have been lately in contact with the new Italian reality by a variety of means: easier communications, more frequent travels, diffusion of Italian television programs in the United States, the creation of a Ministry addressing the needs of the Italians in the world, etc. In many cases, the results have brought back and reshaped the dilemma of their bi-cultural lives.
Women have been particularly sensitive to the meanings of transformations and conflicting pressures, becoming clearly conscious of the need for an equilibrium between new expectations and the sense of cultural identity, and between individual choices and the moral and psychological involvement with their heritage.


Dr. Carmela Pesca  (United States)
Associate Professor of Italian
Department of Modern Languages School of Arts and Sciences
Central Connecticut State University

Associate Professor of Italian Language, Literature, Civilization and Cultural Studies. Publications include many scholarly articles on Italian literature, and one book on Renaissance theatre. Lectures and presentations at professional conferences in language acquisition, film studies, gender issues, and literary criticism.

  • Italian Family
  • Italian-American Family
  • Cultural Identity
  • Gender Issues

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)