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Originally produced in: Italy
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1. Prejudice against immigrates in Italy nowadays

“Nowadays we tell ourselves, with patriotic hypocrisy, we used to be “poor but beautiful”. We tell ourselves our grandparents were much different from the Kurdish or Sinhalese people who are landing on our coasts because we used to settle without causing any troubles, we were welcomed by the local communities and quickly gained their affection, respect and esteem, anyway. But that’s not the way things are. [...]

There is no cliché about today’s immigrants – formerly, a century or just a few years ago, related to us - which could not be referred to the immigrants in our country today. Are these people “illegal immigrants”? So were millions of us, as we were highly recommended by consulates to patrol our coast and mountain passes, not because of arrivals but because of departures. Do they inhabit filthy hovels, disgusting for their sanitary conditions? So did we to the extent that Bernard Lynch, an Irish priest from New York, claimed that “Italian people can gather in a smaller space than any other people, except for, perhaps, the Chinese”. Do they sell their women? We did the same, even in Porto Said and Maghreb brothels. Do they exploit children? For decades we used ours, leasing them to the most infamous pimps and selling them by auction in transalpine marketplaces. Do they import crime? Actually, we did so everywhere. Do they give birth to too many children, with regard to the Italian average, and therefore stake our demographic balance? We were worrying other people in exactly the same way.[...] Even the accusation made after September 11 is not new to us: there used to be lots of terrorists among the immigrants. For a couple of decades, anarchists from our country, like Mario Buda, were spreading panic. Buda, a fanatic from Emilia-Romagna, Italy, changed his name to Mike Boda and on September 16, 1920 he blew up Wall Street, taking New York’s breath away eighty years before Osama Bin Laden did.

Source: Brani dal libro di G. A. Stella, L’orda. Quando gli albanesi eravamo noi, Rizzoli, Milano 2002, pp. 9-12.


Daily news and individual experience let us get in touch with the phenomenon of immigration. Places that used to be deportation lands for migrants, have now become destinations for lots of desperate people looking for better life conditions. That is what is happening in Italy and Italians do not seem to have a very “good memory”. It seems, indeed, that our attitude towards them is often as unfriendly as the one we were faced with. Hostile, often racist attitudes, were one of the main elements of the life of Italians abroad in the past two centuries. The following is an excerpt from the first few pages of a very popular book by a journalist Gian Antonio Stella. Beneath his argumentative style and light tone lies a quite clear invitation to take into account some tough and deeply-rooted prejudices against immigrants.


  1. The excerpt is taken from a book with a clearly provocative title. What does a “horde” remind of? What does the expression “when we were the Albanians” mean?
  2. The excerpt, at the very beginning, refers to “patriotic hypocrisy”, in other words a sort of masked inconsistency. Why?
  3. What are the faults immigrants are often accused of?

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