Project description

Title of the project:

Hidden identity

The Italian-Chinese community in Prato

Length of the project:

September 2012 – December 2014


Organizations promoting the project:

– Webster University Geneva (

Webster University Geneva is a non-profit, American-Accredited University established in 1915 with campuses in Europe, USA & Asia. Webster University Geneva, located at 15 Rue de Collex, 1293 Bellevue, Switzerland, embodies the concept of an international education. This goal become reality as 600 students from over 90 countries come together as a community of learners engaged by faculty representing 25 nations.

Webster University Geneva Media Department commits itself to being engaged in projects that benefit the community.

– Shoot4Change (

Shoot4Change is a nonprofit organization made out of photographers, designers, artists and other dreamers who share part of their time for shooting humanitarian reportages for NGOs and other social organizations.

Shoot4Change isn’t intended just to be a charitable organization, but rather as a hub of experience and best practices.

Shoot4Change acknowledges the value of quality photography and the need to remunerate the efforts and the creativity of its members. No photo, reportage or other results of s4c projects are given free of charge to commercial entities (newspapers, magazines, publishers) unless for promotional uses. In case of remuneration derived from selling single photos or entire reportages to commercial entities, the revenues are used to support social projects and to reimburse the costs bore by the volunteers.

Shoot4Change volunteers are available – free of charge – to those subjects (individuals and associations) that do not have means to afford photo coverage of their work and cannot access mainstream communication, therefore remaining unknown.


Description of the project:

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’.


Research method:

1 – Photographs

Francesco Arese-Visconti, Webster University Geneva Photography Program Coordinator, will photograph the subjects providing visual documentation of the “hidden identity.” Through this series of portraits, Arese-Visconti will try to describe the relationship of the two communities with ONE identity.

Arese-Visconti chose to do portrait photos of people looking straight into the camera. The idea is to photograph Italian and Chinese people as a same identity, as two elements being part of the same body.

2 – Text

The research will investigate the sense of identity through a space of the Italian-Chinese population of Prato with a phenomenological approach. The interviews will be conducted by Betty Sacco German, Webster University Geneva Adjunct Faculty. Betty is a Jungian analyst who works in Lausanne in private practice. Since 2009 she has joined Webster-Geneva where she teaches Issues in Psychology and Introduction to Philosophy. After a Masters in Italian Literature from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, she studied in Zurich at the C.G. Institute, where she obtained her Psychoanalytic Diploma, with a thesis on The House as a Symbol for the Human Psyche. She has published several articles in Italian, French and English, and she regularly speaks at conferences. She is currently working on the relationship between personal and collective psyche, and culture.

An additional research about the process of the Chinese immigration to Prato will be completed by Oreste Foppiani (International Relations Department Head, Research Associate Professor at Webster University Geneva) and Kevin D. Stringer (School of Business & Technology Head) .

3 – Video

Two Webster University Geneva students, Lucas Bullens and Thoraya Binzagr, will realize a video about the project.

4 – Goals

The research is guided by our intention to raise the global awareness on the topic of immigration and integration in Europe analyzing the particular case of Chinese immigration to Prato.

A book with all the photographs and the text will be printed by the end of 2014.


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