Dr. Gerardo Papalia is a Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University in Melbourne. He has completed degrees in Italy and Australia and has taught in universities in both countries. He is a specialist in the study of the history and culture of the Italian diaspora in Australia which he analyses through post-structuralist theoretical approaches. His publications cover a wide range of disciplines including history, cinematography, religious belief, literature and cultural hybridity.
It all depends / on what happened yesterday; / it all depends / on what the papers / say; / whether / today / you are a wog, / a New Australian / or an alien.
This is a famous and often reproduced photograph, used to exemplify the migration experience. Legions of viewers have wanted to project or inscribe their interpretations onto this photograph, with comments like: “Ferocious and affectionate mother”.
Those, in the English-speaking world, who have heard of Pier Paolo Pasolini, are most likely to know of him as a director of controversial films. However, Pasolini, who was born in Bologna in 1922 and murdered in the outskirts of Rome in 1975, started his creative life as a writer of poetry and prose.
I will always remember my first exam at an Italian university. I had barely been seven months in Italy. I had arrived on a scholarship from the Italian government, enthusiastic and fresh-faced, just after graduating in Italian Studies at Melbourne University.
My introduction to Italian art was in the form of an imperious and shocking painting that my mother cut out from a book of art she had brought to Australia from Italy in a shipping chest. My father framed it in a veined wood veneer all shiny and orange-brown.