“Real Men Mark their Territory!” Spatial Constructions of Masculinity in Joe Pieri’s Autobiographical Narratives


  • Souhir Zekri Higher Institute of Studies Applied to Humanities of Tunis



Autobiographical studies, Spatial theory, Italo-Glaswegian immigrants, masculinity


The history of Scots-Italian “male” encounters has an air of violence and brutality, one epitomized from ancient times by relentless “Picts” defending their lands from Roman invasions and by fearless mercenaries of the middle Ages protecting Italian cities. Such a peculiar waltz of animosity and loyalty created a deeply ingrained bond between the two cultures, until the first waves of rather “harmless” Italians started coming to Scotland, particularly to Glasgow, since the nineteenth century. These immigrants have irreversibly influenced the spatial and social infrastructure of the city, mainly through their connection with the catering business and the consequent establishment of ice-cream cafés and fish and chip shops. Now, they have to defend and “mark” their territory again. This essay is concerned with the autobiographical stories and memoirs of Joe Pieri, a Glasgow Italian fish and chip café owner, whose main events take place in the 1920s and 1930s. The main argument of this essay is that spatial narration in Pieri’s accounts influences the construction of his and other masculinities. By examining four of his autobiographical works, I consider how these narratives spatially construct a wide variety of masculinities through their various defence and adaptation strategies in the poverty- and delinquency-stricken Glasgow of the period.

Author Biography

Souhir Zekri, Higher Institute of Studies Applied to Humanities of Tunis

Souhir Zekri, assistant professor of English literature and literary theory, obtained her PhD in English Studies from the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) in 2013. She is mainly interested in women’s fiction, particularly Marina Warner’s, life writing theory, gender studies and postcolonialism. She presented and published articles at a few conferences, namely “Myth and Subversion” in Madrid (2011), “Religious Discourse in/and Society” at the Faculty of Letters and Humanities of Kairouan (2013) and “Narrative(s)/Borders” at the Higher Institute of Studies Applied to Humanities of Tunis (2019) where she currently teaches.