Events / Power to Words: Identity in Contemporary Italy

Power to Words: Identity in Contemporary Italy

November 6, 2023
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Cherpack Seminar Room

Power to words poster

Amir Issaa is an internationally renowned Italo-Egyptian hip-hop artist and a passionate social activist and educator. Amir will visit UPenn to discuss his current projects and conduct a rap writing workshop. The heart of the “Power to Words” format is rap: a language that, today more than any other, tells of the needs, contradictions, and urgencies of a society undergoing profound transformation. Specifically, Amir’s workshop activity allows us to explore this genre in its dual nature: as a form (the fact that it uses metrics and rhetorical figures to strongly express one’s own thoughts) and as content (through rhyming language, you can describe yourself and the world around us in its complexity: discrimination, integration, gender issues, the transformations of cities, and climate change). All the activities on which this workshop is based show a great awareness of the themes of current events, new “languages,” and everything that revolves around concepts such as identity, sharing, music, and evolution. This project also has the ability to debunk many prejudices around the rap genre: it’s very popular with young people and is a potential communication key for many adults too. In this sense, Amir brings his direct testimony: from an early age he lived in a very difficult social and familial context (his father was detained for a long time in prison), and thanks to rap he kept away from illegality, focusing instead on his passion for music. His story is told in the novel “Vivo per questo” (Chiarelettere, 2017). Although he has Italian citizenship, Amir has become a point of reference for many young people of foreign origins born and raised in Italy, the so-called “second generations.” Today, Amir is a recognized activist for civil rights related to obtaining citizenship and uses words and rhymes to raise public awareness of these issues. This event is sponsored by the Italian Consulate General of Italy of Philadelphia, the Center for Italian Studies, and the Department of Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies.