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Mattmark, 30 August 1965: A catastrophe that changed Switzerland's perception of Italian migrants

ContributorsRicciardi, Toniorcid
Published inSchweizerische Zeitschrift für Geschichte, vol. 66, no. 3, p. 401-419
Publication date2016
Abstract

The Mattmark tragedy of August 30th, 1965 fuelled the debate in Switzerland, which had already been going on for a few years, regarding the country's largely un­ controlled economic development. This development required ever more foreign labour – especially for big infrastructural projects – including low­skilled labour, which had been abandoned by the Swiss. For the Italian community in Switzerland, the tragedy represented an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of their presence in a country in which they were not accepted and were not well integrated. Using the Mattmark tragedy as a case study, this paper demonstrates how the identitar­ ian construction of Switzerland as a whole, and its relationship with foreigners, is strongly linked to the identitarian construction of the Canton of Valais, where the tragedy occurred. Mattmark represents a major turning point in Switzerland's long and tormented relationship with foreigners: it changed Switzerland's perception of foreigners and of the Swiss themselves and resulted in significant social, media­ related and political changes, especially regarding the subject of safety at work.

Citation (ISO format)
RICCIARDI, Toni. Mattmark, 30 August 1965: A catastrophe that changed Switzerland’s perception of Italian migrants. In: Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Geschichte, 2016, vol. 66, n° 3, p. 401–419.
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  • PID : unige:91827
ISSN of the journal0036-7834
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