The Philip V. Cannistraro Seminar Series in Italian American Studies: Victoria Calabrese
Italian Women in Basilicata: Staying Behind but Moving Forward during the Age of Mass Emigration, 1876–1914
Victoria Calabrese, Lehman College, CUNY
This study examines the lives of Southern Italian women who remained behind when their husbands emigrated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Piecing together limited archival source material, the author argues that married women were not voiceless or powerless when their husbands were abroad, and that instead they took on roles beyond their limited legal position, including petitioning local officials, receiving remittances, and handling family finances. Centering on Basilicata—a “forgotten” region of Southern Italy—this work challenges stereotypes of the region as backward or uncivilized.