Informations and abstract
Keywords: Migration, Microhistory, France, Italy, Ethnicity, Nation.
Historical studies attempting to understand the migrant experience at the individual level remain scarce. This article offers one contribution to remedying this historiographical deficit, by engaging in a transnational analysis of the life course of one migrant, Luigi Pirolli (1886-1953). At the time of his birth in the heart of the Italian Mezzogiorno, Luigi’s family already had a migration culture. Combined with a particular nexus of constraints and opportunities, this allowed him to migrate at fifteen to the Plaine-Saint-Denis, a working-class, all-migrant suburb of Paris. This is where he would eventually pass away after two world wars, several return-trips, and various oscillations of his national, ethnic, and class identifications. From the reconstruction of Luigi’s itinerary, made possible by a great variety of archival and oral sources, emerges a narrative in which contingent and singular mechanisms of social and cultural differentiation are brought back to the forefront of migration history.