According to Istat (the Italian National Institute of Statistics), Prato (Italy) has the highest proportion of Chinese immigrants of any Italian province (5.38% against 0.81% of Milan). In 1989 there were only 38 Chinese residents in Prato, by 1991 there were 1009 and by the end of 2006 there were 10080 legal Chinese residents. According to the official data of the 15th population census published on December the 18th 2012 on the Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana, this had risen to 11882. In her book ”L’assedio cinese”, Italian journalist Silvia Pieraccini estimated there to be approximately 50000 Chinese in Prato, about 27% of the population. If this is true this would be the highest density of Chinese in relation to the native population in Europe.
In the last thirty years the Italian and Chinese communities in Prato have been forced closer together. For this reason they have developed a new identity, the “sameness of essential or generic character in different instances” (Webster Merriam Dictionary definition for “identity”). There are certainly still elements of diversity between these communities, but each year this new ‘hidden identity’ is growing. The aim of the research is to document this new ‘hidden identity’.
A video realized by our Webster students Lucas Bullens and Thoraya Binzagr.
Francesco Arese Visconti presenting his project on Chinese-Italian cultural integration at the 2014 Webster University Geneva Research Symposium
An other video I was really inspired by: 同年的你我, “Like me,” “Come me” by Luca Mariani (www.lucamariani.me)
同年 的 你 我 – LIKE ME – COME ME – was born as part of the project “Beyond Chinatown,” a project designed to promote the inclusion and participation of young people and Chinese families living in Milan created by a group of researchers, practitioners and artists working with the Municipality of Milan, with the Agency for Social Research Codes, with Associna and the Foundation Monserrate.
Blebla is an Italian rapper I really wanted to include in this project. In his song “Prato” he describes the town he was born in enhancing the good and the bad aspects of the modern society.
“In Prato, when you say “ciao,” it is possible that 35.000 people answer “Nǐ hǎo.”
Check at 1:33 to see his Chinese friend saying in Pratese dialect: “What are you talking about? I am from Prato more than you are…!”
I had the great chance to photograph both of them, Blebla and Alessandro!
During the week of October 21st-26th, our Webster Media crew (Polina Bessonova, Thoraya Binzagr, Lucas Bullens and myself) went to Prato to keep on working on the research project Hidden Identity.
We met great people and had the incredible chance to shoot in the Buddhist Temple and in the park where people do Tai Chi, dance and meditate sharing a common space.
Photos by Polina Bessonova
“Hidden identity – The Italian – Chinese community in Prato” is a research project started in September 2012.
It involves four departments of Webster University Geneva:
– the Media Communications Department (Francesco Arese-Visconti as coordinator and photographer, Media Communications Department Deputy Head);
– the Psychology Department (Betty Sacco, Adjunct Faculty);
– the International Relations Department (Oreste Foppiani, International Relations Department Head);
– the School of Business and Technology (Kevin D. Stringer, School of Business and Technology Head):
Three Media students are also part of the project: Polina Bessonova, Thoraya Binzagr and Lucas Bullens.
The research project is also supported by Shoot4Change (www.shoot4change.net)