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Luigi Maiorino
00:00 / 11:21

Audio transcript:

so both my parents, my mum and dad, come from a small village in a region

of Italy called Basilicata

which is in the South and it's inland in the middle of the peninsula

in a sort of mountainous area

and it's called Grumento, Grumento Nova

and the dialect is um

specific to their town

so all the dialects change, like even though there's villages five or six kilometres away

there's little subtle differences


dialects within Basilicata are kind of similar, but they're all different from each other depending on the town?


well, I sort of learned to speak with my grandparents and parents, how they spoke


so I think where the Italian language sort of

changed to one uniform way of speaking


they sort of stuck with their late 40s 1950s dialect

was it your first language?

I think it was my first language you know

how do you identify


living here growing up in an Anglo

Australian country feeling like an Italian or a wog, you know

and then going to Italy and feeling like an Aussie

so you're defined in spaces by what you're not never by what you are?

yeah, it's sort of a way to put it

so growing up in Australia, you always felt like you were different?

yeah, as a kid yeah, because I wasn't an Aussie

and I didn't have blonde hair and blue eyes and my name wasn't John Smith


it was Luigi Antonio Maiorino

did you experience discrimination growing up?

yeah, a little bit of discrimination, I wouldn't say a lot of discrimination

as in like discrimination as in like not having

opportunities or...I think we all had opportunities, especially in sport

like if you could kick a footy well, well that didn't matter what you were, so I don't think we were discriminated against in

opportunity-ways but just discriminated against by other kids cause yeah

we had...brought different food to school, and suppose looked a bit different, thought a bit different

some kids came to school and weren't bilingual, their parents only spoke to them in Italian

I mean on the whole it was alright, but there was always that thing that

you're an Aussie or you're a wog... and I was a wog

it was not just defining a difference

yeah, there was that racist...


yeah, but it never entered my mind at the time that they were wogs too in a way... they were boat people too like

they weren't Indigenous to this country


that didn't come to me then

one kid, who was Italian

who was a great footy player and respected because of his footy skills

I remember him... it might have even been me, or might have been someone else...calling them a wog

even though he was a wog

he was in with the Aussie hierarchy

I had a lot of fights in the schoolyard


living here, growing up in an Anglo Australian country, I feel like an Italian or a wog, you know and then when I went to Italy I felt like an Aussie



how do you feel about using the word 'wog' then if you've grown up with it being used in a derogatory way a lot of the time?

like it doesn't worry me to say 'wog' because it's a term or it's a...

...just a word

I suppose when you're a kid, it's different

and maybe it wasn't bad enough to worry me

and you don't really hear it anymore

you don't hear people

using that term

in a derogatory way

so yeah coming from migrant parents and grandparents, I think gardening is one of the big things that's

that's influenced me like I really love growing

veggies, having a veggie garden and fruit trees

so I don't know if I would have gone in that direction if I didn't have that

around me

and that's like a consequence of migration do you think?

well no that's just a consequence of their culture that they brought with them?

yeah, farmers

yeah, and that satisfaction of doing something with the earth

sorta keeping it basic

in some stuff that I've been reading they talk about the

experiences of people who migrate, no matter when they have or from what cultural background they have, but of pulling together resources

I think that accumulation probably came from


them being poor in their country and then coming here and

like it was an opportunity to just get a job and then I do

overtime and make money and buy a house and maybe buy another house

so it was like 'make hay while the sun shines'

type of mentality


and there was a lot of sunshine so they made a lot of hay


so maybe a bit of that's rubbed off

what's probably trickled down with me

is like, in the way that, I want to own my own house

not that I don't want to accumulate wealth

but I'm not striving to accumulate wealth

you know we learn about other cultures

Vietnamese people come here and we see Vietnamese restaurants opening

and Greek restaurants, we have Italian restaurants.

we know about other cultures

and yet, I get about 40 years of age and

stumbled on to Aboriginal culture

and it was like, I don't know anything about Aboriginal culture and I'm living in Aboriginal Australia

culture's been here for, like I said, you know

60,000 - 80,000 it's like

how can I not know anything?

like I should know

and then discovered this whole other view

of Australia

like saw Australia in a whole different way

where do you think Italian Australian people fit into current Australian politics?

well, it's like it's like the the kid at primary school

who's a wog, who called other Italian kids's very recent that I hear Italian people

will come out with a comment like 'fuck off, we're full'

so it's that same mentality of...

this is the thing about Australian culture, once you're accepted

you automatically become a racist, you know?

like I'm not trying to generalise

you know as an Italian, you know, son of Italian migrants

for starters, I mean we still have to establish ourselves as who we are in this country under Aboriginal Law


with Aboriginal people, that hasn't been reconciled yet.

as a visitor as a

person who is not from this country, I suppose we've got to reconcile that


it's not about 'I've worked hard', I had the opportunity to work and save a few dollars and pay a house off because I was in the right place at the right time


I s'pose the attitude

that I've heard is, or seen, is that 'but I worked damn hard to get what I have'

I mean, you can that you had the opportunity to


of this, that and the other and they probably did work hard

they're not exclusive to each other though and that's the difference


it's not about 'I've worked hard', I had the opportunity to work

and save a few dollars and pay a house off because I was in the right place at the right time

there was a stage there where I want to move out into the country and

have this idyllic little hobby farm, and I tried that and


yeah there was no pot of gold at the end of that rainbow

why is that?

because I think it was a romantic idea

to recreate this lifestyle that nonno and nonna talk about?


it wasn't what I thought it would be

what did you think it would be?

I thought it would be like

get away from 9:00 to 5:00 and then just totally concentrate on

having this blissful life of

growing your own food and

breathing fresh air and

working hard and sleeping well

but I don't think I've got that feeling of longing, I think I could probably live anywhere now

and adapt to any situation

if I had to

do you feel like that's because your connection to culture and to migration

as part of your identity has changed over time?

yeah, it's changed and I don't place that much importance on

on it anymore

I still obviously connect with the Italian culture or language

and that's, like it is what it is, because I grew up in an Italian family and I was born in an Italian family

I don't think it's like any deep... it's not a deep thing that I need to

have or to fall back on

I'd probably like to think that that's not really what defines me or

what I need to have as a rock to be who I am

and then marrying mum too

she was pretty traditional, traditional family

Well, that's another influence too, I s'pose

there's stuff going on there that you don't even realise is going on

yeah, it's just you find yourself comfortable in spaces that are

entrenched with those kinds of things


do you think that there has been created a unique Italian Australian cultural identity that is separate from

Italy separate from Australia?

yeah, for sure, of course cause it's a

mixing of two cultures

like if mum and dad had of migrated to America

it would have been different again


wherever, Argentina

yeah, you become a product of your environment

what do you think is unique to Italian Australian culture?

it's just a mix of things, it's the way you think, it's just yeah different way of thinking

different way of processing things and then if you're talking about me specifically then

it'd be a different level to you


or to my mum and dad

do you think that that's a feature of Italian Australian culture, as a uniqueness?

I think it's... that's

being diluted out now for Italian...

even though there is always... there is that way of relating

you might relate to other second-generation

Italians, cause we've had that similar

exposure cause of where we were born

I don't know if I go looking for it

of feel the need to have it, but when I come across it, it's comfortable and sometimes uncomfortable

I don't think I need to formally belong to any of that, you know

but when I come across it, yeah it's nice

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