Accepted Paper:

Going rural and urban at the same time: reflections from the Roman Sikh context  


Federica Ferraris (Sussex University)

Paper short abstract:

Sikh migration in Italy is mainly rural-to-rural, though in Rome Sikhs are scattered on the outskirts as well as in town. The paper will present data emerging from research at the local Gurdwara and at ashrams owned by Italian converts hosting migrants, questioning the urban-rural separation.

Paper long abstract:

Preliminary researches conducted over the last decade show that Italy has assisted to a consistent rural to rural Sikh migration, more similar to California than to other European countries, and account specific rural areas (in particular the Po Valley in Northern Italy) as major places of settlement.

A noticeable exception to this general frame of analysis is constituted by the capital city of Rome. Though a majority, in fact, not all Sikhs are rural settlers, and this is especially true in Rome area, where Punjabi migrants are scattered in the outskirts but also in town, where they run small businesses both in the formal and informal sector.

This paper aims to highlight some considerations emerging from an ongoing ethnographic research I am carrying out at the local Gurdwara of Fiumicino, in the outer edges of Rome, as well as around two ashrams owned by Italian converted Sikhs, which are hosting some Sikh migrants as well. All these sites seem to question the separation of urban versus rural contexts, since they act respectively as community centres for Sikhs living in town and neighbouring villages, and as places of residence from where to commute for professional purposes downtown.

In this perspective, the 'Sikh case' is a good example to take on further reflections on the changing urban shape of Rome, which appears constantly transformed, over the last decades, by the increasing expansion of suburban areas; such restructuring has interested too the way migrants choose where to work and live.

Panel W067
Transnational religious networks and their European emplacement