Jewish Migrations from North Africa and the Middle East to Milan (1940s-1970s)
The digital visualisation Mapping Roots, Charting Routes concerns the specific case of Jewish migrations from the Middle East and North Africa to Milan (Italy). It is based on 108 interviews conducted by the CDEC Foundation – Edoth Project (2011-2019) with Jews from Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Libya and Syria, who settled in the city between the 1940s and 1970s. The corpus includes 48 women and 60 men.
Mapping Roots, Charting Routes can be navigated by setting different filters: gender, home community, identity documents, year of settlement in Milan, place and cause of departure. The general map highlights the settlement trip to Milan from the country of origin. By clicking on the individual trajectory, dashed lines display the intermediate trips and an individual portrait opens.
Along with the anonymized personal data of the traveller, the individual portrait includes the countries of origin of the family members, the identity documents they possessed, the languages spoken in the family circle along with the professional activity and the cause of departure. In a future development of the project, more information will be added in this section.
The map is accompanied by a series of graphs and charts which elaborate the information in an aggregated form: according to the home community, that is the country of origin. For instance, the graphs display the correlation between the personal identity claimed by the interviewee with the identity documents possessed by her/his family.
Through this sample of interviews, the digital visualisation Mapping Roots, Charting Routes attempts to depict the overall complexity of the migratory phenomenon while paying attention to the peculiarity of each journey. It is an attempt to hold the ‘whole’ and the ‘fragment’ in the effort to come closer to the sense people make—and made—of their journey as individuals but also as part of a larger collective.
In a way, this is what digital humanities are about: keeping the human experience at the core while experimenting with computer assisted technologies to elaborate, visualize and connect the data of and about that very human experience.