Sonia Cancian
Let's write about love... Rediscovering a lost art.

Sonia Cancian

In 1834, about 5 letters were mailed per person per year in England. Today, we receive more email than we have time to read. Love them or hate them, we blast others and are bombarded in return with social messages. Is our ability to connect massively and instantaneously making us feel any closer to each other? Or, are we now also falling into the trap of what George Bernard Shaw had warned us: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”? 

In the talk, Sonia will share with us the discoveries in her research on how couples and families separated by migration wrote through letters about their joy and pain of love. If we pick up pen and paper to write to our loved ones, what would we write…?

Canadian historian, Sonia Cancian studies how migration has shaped gender, family, and emotional dynamics of migrants and their significant others in Canada and Italy in the 20th century. She is best known as an expert in migrant letters, and especially love letters written in contexts of migration with the publication of numerous articles and her book, Families, Lovers, and their Letters: Italian Postwar Migration to Canada (University of Manitoba Press, 2010). She is currently completing a manuscript on a collection of love letters written by an Italian couple who were separated as a result of migration in 1948. Sonia is project leading the Digitizing Immigrant Letters Project at the University of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center and she teaches at Zayed University in Dubai.