There is no change without conflict
“There is no change without conflict, and my role is to facilitate the transition.” Luna Angelini Marinucci is the newly appointed Italian consul of Queensland and the Northern Territory, largest district in Australia.
Italian society is constantly evolving, and as society changes, so do language and culture, and the XXII SETTIMANA DELLA LINGUA ITALIANA NEL MONDO, celebrated across the world this October, is emblematic of this change. Segmento meets Luna Angelini Marinucci to discuss the role of consulates to promote understanding of difference within the Italian community in Australia.
As a young Italian consul in Australia, you represent both the older generation of Italo-Australians and their descendants as well as the younger Italians who are now arriving again after the end of travel restrictions. How do you view your role vis-à-vis these two groups?
When I took office in Brisbane last May, I became immediately aware that the community I am here to serve is mainly made up of two large groups. There are the Italo-Australians of second or third generation, who often lost their Italian citizenship because, by law, the migrants from the 50s, 60s, and 70s had to relinquish it in order to become Australian citizens. Even if on paper they might not be of Italian nationality, they maintain a strong Italian cultural identity. In fact, most of them speak Italian or a dialect and they have kept the Italian traditions alive, also by founding the numerous regional associations –in Brisbane alone there are 11! – where today they still gather, play cards, and listen and dance to folkloric music. Then there is the new generation of immigrants. They are those who arrived and continue to arrive in Australia, often thanks to the Working Holiday Visa program, which was updated in July this year to be made available to all Italian citizens between 18 and 35. As they grew up in Italy, they have a very different vision of Italy, and so the cultural gap between these two groups is quite huge: if the former group listens to Modugno, younger Italians listen to Måneskin! Rather than relying on institutions and associations, they have more spontaneous forms of gathering and this makes it more difficult to reach them.
So, what is the role of consulates in bridging these differences?
My personal mission, as a junior consul, is to reach out to these new migrants, bring together these different generations, and eventually bridge the cultural gap that exists between them. Obviously, the consulate is the point of contact between individuals and institutions. We guarantee assistance to anyone in need, and I’d like to encourage everyone who is in Australia, even for a short time, to register their presence. In addition, the consulate supports any initiatives launched by the Italian government. For example, all Italian diplomatic and consular offices around the world are now celebrating the Week of the Italian Language in the World, and this year, the XXII SETTIMANA DELLA LINGUA ITALIANA NEL MONDO is emblematic of the cultural change that has been happening in Italy as it is titled “L'italiano e i giovani. Come scusa? Non ti followo.” It is clear, and natural, that the languages (including the dialects) spoken today are very different from the Italian (and dialects) spoken in the 50s.
Could language be the instrument to unite the generations then?
Language and culture are the bearer of peace, and anything created in Italy carries soft power, which is a stabilizing and fundamental element for Italy and the continuity of its role in the world. Apart from the events organized annually for the Week of the Italian Language in the World, the consulate promotes exchanges for students of Italian, professional development for language teachers, exhibitions, and seminars.
When can we expect to hear Måneskin and Modugno in the same event?
Many initiatives can be organized; for example, one I particularly loved was when Italian children in kindergarten sang in residential aged care centers, where many Italo-Australians are living. The older generation has got a lot to offer to new migrants, and new migrants are the ones we need to carry on their legacy. Providing opportunities for these two groups to get into contact is key for the survival of Italian culture in Australia, which, as any culture, must change to survive. And change is never painless. It requires conflict, it requires taking a position, and not giving up when told it is not the way we do things. But again, my role is to make this transition as smooth as possible. So, Måneskin and Modugno in the same concert? I believe we won't need to wait that long!
Images provided by Luna Angelini Marinucci