Jana Byars talks with Martina Cvajner
, Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Trento, about her new book, Soviet Signoras: Personal and Collective Transformations in Eastern European Migration
(University of Chicago Press, 2019). This book focuses on a group of women who migrated from areas in the former Soviet Union to northern Italy, following them from the first days of their arrival and their early work as elderly home caregivers, as they build personal lives and networks, through the establishment of a meaningful community. Dr Cvajner spent almost two decades with the women she studies, developing friendships and long-term connections. This personal interest shines through in the book and in our talk. She has a genuine affection for her subjects and approaches them not just as research material, but as whole humans, with complex stories. As a review noted, “By zeroing in on these elements of personal identity, she reveals previously unexplored sides of the social psychology of migration, colouring our contemporary discussion with complex shades of humanity. ”Our discussion discusses the importance of sexuality, the relationship between gender and migration, and explores the benefits of long-term ethnographic research.