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Diasporic Italians: Giuliano-Dalmati Exodus and the Giuliano-Dalmata Community

Students at the University of Guelph with the HUMN*3800: Italian Heritage and Digital Applications course are working on projects highlighting the history of the Giuliano- Dalmati exodus and refugees of World War II with a focus on the Giuliano-Dalmata Canadese. On October 30, 2023 Professor Emeritus Konrad Eisenbichler joined the class to initiate our research.

Conference Poster for Konrad Eisenbichler's Talk

According to Dr. Konrad Eisenbichler, “Scholarship on Italian immigration to Canada has generally omitted the Julian-Dalmatians, a group of Italians from Istria and Dalmatia, two regions that, in the wake of World War Two, were ceded by Italy to Yugoslavia as part of its war reparations to that country. Though Italians by language culture, and traditions, it seems that this group has been conveniently excised from history, at least until the late 1990s/early 2000s.”

Some of the major Italian-Canadian figures presented in this talk include the journalists Mario Duliani (1885–1964) in Montreal and Gianni Angelo Grohovaz (1926–1988) in Toronto, the novelist Caterina Edwards (b. 1948) in Edmonton), the poet Diego Bastianutti (b. 1939) in Vancouver, the graphic artist Vittorio Fiorucci (1932–2008) in Montreal, the photographer and artist Silvia Pecota in Kingston, and Italian American Lidia Giuliana Matticchio Bastianich. The presentation ends with a brief description of the “Arpa d’or” (Golden Harp) book series just launched by the Club Giuliano Dalmato of Toronto.


Dr. Teresa Russo introduced the guest speaker on October 30 during an online presentation open to the public: “Tonight, with the School of Languages & Literatures we welcome Professor Emeritus Konrad Eisenbichler to speak on the topic of the Giuliano-Dalmata Canadese. Professor Konrad Eisenbichler, now retired from the University of Toronto where he was a member of the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies and cross-appointed to the Renaissance Studies at Victoria College, teaching early modern Italian literature, early modern media, and European attitudes towards sex and gender in the 15th and 16th centuries as well as making many contributions to Italian Canadian Studies … is the author, editor, and translator of more than 30 books, including the article collections Forgotten Italians: Julian-Dalmatian Writers and Artists in Canada (U. of Toronto Press, 2019) and the volume  An Italian Region in Canada: The Case of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1998). Most recently, he translated Rosanna Turcinovich Giuricin’s book In the Maelstrom of History: A Conversation with Miriam (about a Holocaust survivor who grew up in Trieste and now lives in Toronto) and Claudia Sonia Colussi Corte, The Secret of Bald Island (about an Italian communist who was imprisoned in Goli Otok – Bald Island – Marshal Tito’s infamous prison island for political dissidents). Within the Italian community, Eisenbichler is the editor of El Boletin, the quarterly newsletter of the Club Giuliano Dalmato di Toronto and founding editor of  the book series “Arpa d’Or”, which publishes works in English about diasporic Italians (especially Giuliano-Dalmati) as well as personal narratives of people originally from Venezia Giulia, Istria, Fiume, and Dalmatia. More broadly in the community, Eisenbichler has served as Consultore Regionale for the Autonomous Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (1991-2004) and as President of the Federazione Giuliano-Dalmata Canadese (2004-2009). In recognition of his work for diasporic Italians in North America and Italian culture in general, in 2010 the President of Italy inducted him into the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy at the rank of Commendatore (Knight Commander). And just this year, the Governor General of Canada, the Honourable Mary Simon, appointed Eisenbichler to the Order of Canada for his contributions to scholarship and to the Italian community in Canada. The Italian Heritage class is very excited to welcome this evening Professor Emeritus Konrad Eisenbichler.

His talk is entitled A Different Sort of Italian: Julian-Dalmatian Immigrants in Canada. The Julian-Dalmatians constitute an important element in twentieth-century Italian history and represent a unique aspect of Italian culture and emigration to Canada. This talk will provide a brief introduction to the history of this community and an overview of the cultural production that surrounds and represents it here in Canada. 

Let us also remember that The University of Guelph resides on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. We recognize this gathering place where we work and learn is home to many past, present, and future First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. 

This talk will be recorded with the permission of our guest and then shared with the community on the platform Italian Canadian Narratives Showcase at the University of Guelph. Please turn off your mics and cameras during the talk. After the presentation I will take questions and we can have a conversation together.