The Spaces of Citizenship: Mapping Personal and Colonial Histories in Contemporary Italy in Igiaba Scego’s La Mia Casa È Dove Sono (My Home is Where I Am)


  • Eleanor Paynter Ohio State University



Second generation, national identity, postcolonial migration, Italy


As Italy has changed from emigration country to immigration destination, the growing body of literature by migrant and second generation writers plays an important role in connecting discourses on race and national identity with the country’s increasing diversity and its colonial past. This essay investigates the 2010 memoir La Mia Casa È Dove Sono (My Home is Where I Am) by Igiaba Scego, the daughter of Somali immigrants, as life writing that responds to these changing demographics and, more broadly, to the migration trends affecting contemporary Europe. The self Scego constructs through her narration integrates her Roman identity and Somali background as the narrative returns colonial history to Italian public discourse and public space. I argue that by narrating the personal and historical in the context of Roman monuments and neighborhoods, Scego’s memoir challenges and redefines who can be “Italian,” modeling a more inclusive Italianità. I discuss the memoir in terms of its use of collective memory and its development of a narrative “I” that claims a position within a collective identity while challenging the exclusionary tendencies of that very group.


This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on June 8th, 2016, and published on July 17th, 2017.

Author Biography

Eleanor Paynter, Ohio State University

Eleanor Paynter is a doctoral student in Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University, where she studies literatures of migration, especially refugee narratives, and their relationship to colonial histories and current migration trends. She also serves as an editor for the Amsterdam-based literary arts journal Versal.