Research seminar at Oxford University

Research seminar at Oxford University

Valencians to New York: A forgotten diaspora
Research seminar at Oxford University, Nov 21st, 2017



Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford

Title: Valencians to New York: a forgotten diaspora

Speaker: Dr. Teresa Morell, University of Alicante, Spain

Date/Time: November 21st, 2017 5PM

Place: Taylor Institution Room 2


From 1912 to 1920, ten thousand Valencians from the raisin-producing rural county of la Marina Alta in Spain, entered the U.S. through Ellis Island, New York. Among these Valencian-speaking migrants were the Carnegie Hall opera singer, Valerià Gil, the Broadway dancer, Trini Reyes, and the Giant’s baseball player, Salvador Yvars. This forgotten migration phenomenon and subsequent understudied diaspora (unveiled in the prize-winning 2012 Catalan version of Valencians to New York, the case of la Marina Alta 1912-1920) was triggered by the phylloxera plague that destroyed the grape vines needed to produce the tremendous amounts of raisins that were exported from the port of Denia, in Spain, to the UK and Ireland. Lack of a means of sustenance in their homeland and a call for working hands across the ocean, led nearly 50% of the county’s male population to embark on an extraordinary exodus that for some would be temporary but for others, and their descendants, would mean a lifetime. In this seminar, we will probe into this intriguing Valencian migration to NY in search of a better life, and refer to the interest it has awaken in academic, filmic and literary spheres. For example, the forthcoming novel of María Dueñas, the author of El tiempo entre costuras, will portray stories of the epic period of Spaniards in New York during the 1930s.