The volume “The Challenge of Mestizaje in the Muslim Migration. A Research on Area of Milan” is one of the first attempts to use the concept of mestizaje, drafted by the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, as the key to frame the existing forms of interaction between the Muslim world and the Italian and Christian community, in particular in the area of Milan. This work reflects the results of a complex and ambitious research project, promoted by the Oasis Foundation and conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Studies and Research on the Family of the Catholic University of Milan and the ISMU Foundation in 2015-2016. Through a series of interviews to first and second generation Muslims, to privileged witnesses and to representatives of organized communities (Islamic, Catholic and non-denominational), the research aimed at investigate the forms of existing mestizaje and the conditions that make possible a real exchange and encounter among people and communities belonging to different cultures.
Thus, the first part of the volume offers a cultural and demographic framework of the Muslim presence in Milan through the description of the main first and second generation’s Islamic organizations active in Italy, in the Milan area in particular, and of the elements that these several realities have in common and their distinguishing factors. The following chapter sheds light on the complexity and on the different facets of the Muslim presence in Milan, by means of quantitative data processing on the structural characteristics of this population: gender, age and education, the lenght of residence, working and professional, housing and family conditions, and the rate of irregularities. Whereas, the second part of the book presents the main results of the research and its methodological approach based on the J. Berry acculturation model, used, as Giovanna Rossi explains in the preface, “to read into the cultural dynamics generated by the meeting between migrants and autochthons and the possible outcomes of the adaptation processes of Muslim migrants to the new context.”
The work starts from the idea that an actual process of mestizaje, through which anyone involved will be transformed, is actually already in place, and tries to investigate the existence of a religious mestizaje (not only ethnic and cultural) and its forms, considering the Milanese context and, in particular, the differences between men and women, and between first and second generations. What emerges is on the one hand, a complex and articulated picture with active experiences of exchange and encounter already taking place – as well as situations of indifference or closure towards others –, on the other hand, it demonstrates the existence of an ongoing process where the development of relations of trust and cooperation and the growing prominence of the second generation and women can play a key role in achieving effectively “generative” encounters of mestizaje. In the words of Cardinal Scola, in fact, mestizaje is “first of all, an ongoing process that indicates neither a cultural integration theory, nor a comprehensive category of understanding reality; rather, it includes a de facto situation that is set before us and that, willingly or not, involves each of us individually and socially, as people and members of intermediate bodies and civil societies” (Scola, 2007).1
1 A. Scola, Una nuova laicità. Temi per una società plurale, Marsilio, Venezia, 2007.