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Italians in the Americas
Experiences in South and North Americas

The Italians in America, from Transculturation to Identity Renegotiation

Les Italiens dans les Amériques. De la transculturation à la renégociation de l’identité
Marie-Christine Michaud
p. 41-51

Résumés

L’expérience des immigrants italiens ne doit pas être considérée comme une rupture par rapport à leur vie en Italie mais plutôt en termes de continuité même si l’environnement américain a influencé leur mode de vie. L’interaction entre leur communauté et la société américaine a conduit à une identité italo-américaine née d’une renégociation de leurs identités originelles, de la construction d’une conscience nationale, et de leur américanisation. Aussi, sont-ils devenus des white ethnics.

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Texte intégral

1Between 1880 and 1924, some 4.5 million Italians arrived in the United States. In spite of the distance, they maintained strong ties with their home country, which nourished their cultural heritage even after their settlement in their foster society. Thus their migration to the United States cannot be viewed in terms of rupture as Oscar Handlin maintained when he called these men «uprooted» but should be studied from the perspective of continuity. Simultaneously, and inevitably, their host country exerted some influence on their patterns of socialisation. The mutual exchanges between the migrants and the United States, in other words transculturation, redefined the individuals’ status. Even more, they gave way to a redefinition of their identity.

Transnationalism and Assimilation

  • 1 What Linda Basch, Nina Schiller and Cristina Szanton-Blanc introduced was the conceptualization of (...)

2Contrary to what Linda Basch, Nina Schiller and Cristina Blanc-Szanton first advanced in 1994, transnationalism is not a new phenomenon and the Italians who massively migrated to the United States at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century maintained strong ties with their home country, village and family. Even if the transnationalism that characterizes current migration movements has nothing to do with the situation of the Italians in the United Sates in the early 1900s, Italian migrants built a social network «that link[ed] together their societies of origin and settlement [...], social fields that cross[ed] geographic, cultural, and political borders».1

  • 2 Max Ascoli, «On the Italian Americans», Common Ground, vol 2, n° 2, 1992.

3Migrants had never been indifferent to the local situation in their fatherland, essentially because many of them were birds of passage, ready to go back home if the conditions of life there improved2. The hope, expectation or plan to return home may explain why their involvement in their country of origin remained a part of their daily lives as migrants. Their contacts with the home country enabled them to keep some of their customs, traditions and system of socialization as they still felt close to «home». Hence, the process of assimilation was not as quick as the Anglo-Americans had expected. When the majority groups required the complete assimilation of the foreign-born population, that is their Americanization by «forgetting» their cultural background, migrants seemed to resist this process even though they had to adapt to their host society and multiply contacts with it.

  • 3 Michael Miller Topp, «The Transnationalism of the Italian–American Left: the Lawrence Strike of 191 (...)
  • 4 Carlo Tresca, The Autobiography of Carlo Tresca, ed Nunzio Pernicone, New York: John Calandra Itali (...)

4Indeed, it seems that they lived in two societies at the same time, trying to get involved in American society to benefit from some of the advantages that the New World promised but still feeling part of their family back in Italy. For example, they strove to join in the labor movement in the United States and they were still influenced by and concerned with the political evolution of Italy3. As Carlo Tresca, the socialist leader, acknowledged after his settlement in the United States: «I was still living in Italy, both with my heart and mind. Though living in America, my thought, my talks, my habits of life, my friends and my enemies were all Italian».4 Their political involvement led to the development of a working-class solidarity among Italian migrants and eventually with American workers. As a whole, it entailed a new identification among migrants.

  • 5 Stefano Luconi, Italian Americans and Transnationalism: Old Wine in New Bottles? in Russo, John Pau (...)
  • 6 Luconi, ibid. p. 78-79.
  • 7 New York Times, October 12, 1946: 6.
  • 8 New York Times, October 13, 1948: 15.

5In the United States, they began by feeling Italian. They built associations in order to feel close to their relatives and friends back in their villages. For example, thanks to these ethnic institutions, they sent remittances – an average of 400 to 500 million lira each year in the early twentieth century5 – or collected funds to help them in times of crises. When an earthquake ruined Messina in December 1908, the Italian migrants were quick to respond. Two days after the catastrophe, Il Progresso Italo-Americano, the largest Italian-American daily in the New York area, had already collected $255,000 from the Italian-American community to help «[their] poor brothers, the blood of [their] blood condemned in such a way»; the paper carried on collecting money to assist the victims of the earthquake until the middle of the year 1909. In an identical brotherly spirit, when the First World War broke out, it was estimated that between 60,000 and 70,000 Italians living in the United States went to Italy to fight for their native land.6 After the Second World War, some famous Italian-American political figures such as Vito Marcantonio and Vincent Impellitteri claimed an official status for Italy as a full member of the United Nations Organization7. As Italian-Americans supported an anti-Communist policy and even tried to persuade their relatives and friends in Italy to vote against the candidates for the popular front, Henry Wallace, the progressist candidate for presidential elections, declared that Italy was becoming an American colony.8 In fact, the Italian-American community played its part on the national scene. They constituted the grassroots of the Democratic Party, all the while remaining involved in the establishment of de Gasperi’s government in Italy by leading an anti-Communist crusade thanks to letters they sent to their relatives in Italy. Patriotism was not a question of geography and national borders but a matter of feeling of belonging. Even if it is possible to maintain that the attachment of Italian migrants before the Second World War was primarily sentimental, as their political or economic commitment depended on selective circumstances (natural catastrophes, political backlashes), their choice of keeping ties with their country of origin, of identifying themselves as Italians in a host society that had adopted an assimilationist policy, nourished their Italian identity.

  • 9 John Bodnar, The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America, Bloomington: Indiana Unive (...)

6Thanks to the constant flow of migrants before the adoption of the quota laws in 1921 and 1924, and the workers’ movement back and forth conditioned by seasonal employment, their physical contacts with Italy kept their cultural traits alive within the ethnic enclaves. Italians seemed to «transplant» their practices to their new environment.9 So, their migration is to be seen in terms of continuity even if they had to adapt their Italian ways to their host society – Italian ways (in the plural) as the individuals’ identities and patterns of socialization were based on campanilismo, that is a village-based feeling of belonging. Moreover, ideas, even political ideologies, also traveled from one country to the other. Before the unification of Italy, those migrants could not feel united, as their cultural, linguistic, economic, even religious, traits were different from one region, even one village, to another. But the building of the Italian nation at the end of the 19th century, intensified by the national pride that Mussolini induced as early as the 1920s, stimulated political solidarity and cohesiveness between expatriates and the population in Italy.

7The establishment of ethnic enclaves, where newcomers came to rekindle traditional values, permitted individuals to keep their familiar ways of living, slowing down the process of acculturation. The possibility to eat familiar meals, to speak their languages, to perpetuate family solidarity, the exchanges of expectations and thoughts between expatriates and those who stayed in their village, in other words the maintenance of connections with the homeland and its culture, was instrumental in the process of integration. It reduced the feeling of isolation and alienation, the cultural shock due to the change of environment. It enabled individuals to be progressively introduced to the Anglo-American way of life. Without disrupting too much their selves and practices, migrants could take some elements of the host country. The process of assimilation seemed less aggressive whereas a nativist atmosphere spread in the United States at the end of the 19th century through the rise of patriotic and racist societies such as the American Protective Association or the Ku Klux Klan.

  • 10 Philip Gleason, «Identifying Identity. A Semantic History», Journal of American History, vol 69, n° (...)

8Thus, though migrants first felt that they belonged to a specific community, the outer society inevitably impinged on the migrants’ cultural and social identity. Philip Gleason10 defines two aspects in the identity construction: one comes from the cultural heritage of the individual; the second one comes from the relationships between the individual and the environment. Such a theory highlights the impact of American society on foreign populations while still emphasizing the role of the ties with the home country. It implies that a renegotiation of the migrants’ identity may be expected due to the change of environment.

  • 11 Linda Basch, Nina Schiller, and Cristina Szanton-Blanc, op. cit., p. 7.

9The organization of their communities evolved; the taking over of their parishes by the Irish-American Catholic church, the emergence of a second generation born or raised in the United States, the creation of «ethnic» institutions such as an Italian press or mutual aid societies, the involvement of men in the American industrial system (they turned from rural work to unskilled industrial employment) reflected the transmutations that their contacts with the host society provoked. Thus, many Italian migrants lived «a multiplicity of involvements both in home and host countries», as Basch, Schiller and Blanc-Szanton remarked to define transmigrants.11 So, the ties with the home country not only slowed down the process of assimilation but were instrumental in shaping a new identity and identification among those individuals.

From Transculturation to Nationalism

  • 12 Michael Fischer, Ethnicity and the Post-Modern Arts of Memory, in Clifford, James and George Marcus (...)

10In Ethnicity and the Post-Modern Arts of Memory,12 Michael Fischer refers to «interreferences» to deal with the mutual influence of the two systems in contact. According to Fischer, the migrants’ systems change because of the influence of the host society and, simultaneously, the American environment evolves due to the presence of the foreign populations. Changes occur according to the different groups that are in contact and the context; the inter-references rely on a creative process that may bring about new cultural entities.

  • 13 Fernando Ortiz, Contrapunteo cubano del tabaco y el azúcar, La Havana: J. Montero, 1940.

11Fernando Ortiz13 goes even further when he evokes the process of transculturation, that is, the mutual and reciprocal influence of groups that come into contact, a process that irrevocably transforms their identities. Transculturation must be considered as a phenomenon of cultural encounter that is possible as a function of the porosity of cultures. It is a system of give-and-take, in which the «trans» term takes its full meaning of exchange. It relies on several phenomena that provide a transmutation of cultures and give way to the construction of new identities. This process also induces changes in the cultural mold that the host society represents. So, the Euro-centric vision, even the ethnocentrism encapsulated in the assimilation theory, is no longer appropriate to define this process of cultural exchange and interdependence. This democratic scheme coming from a postcolonial perspective depends on renegotiation, exchanges rather than antagonism: it aims at establishing a dialogue between the several groups in contact, entailing not only societal evolution but also individual transformation. Social and cultural hybridity can then be a result of the encounter; in our case, it introduces a new identity to Italian migrants: Italian-Americanness.

  • 14 Address by Vincent Impellitteri, October 11, 1950. Municipal archives, New York City, roll 29, box  (...)

12The dialogue implied in transculturation brought about change in race relations, in the manner that people see others, perceive themselves, reflect on their experiences, their conceptions of life as well as in the American dominant culture. Overall, the presence of the foreign-born populations in the United States has transformed the Anglo-American Protestant culture derived from the colonial period into a multiethnic and multiracial compound culture. The U. S. government may be influenced by the presence of migrant groups. In 1950, for example, the aftermath of the war led New York City’s Mayor Vincent Impellitteri to acknowledge that «it was for America’s own good that a strong, progressive and free Italy [was needed]», which conditioned the government foreign policy.14 Thus, transculturation produces a real transmutation in the inner character of institutions, individuals or systems.

13The identity that Italian migrants built for themselves in the American context is a complex entity. It is the result of the cultural encounter between individuals and their foster society. So the different periods, generations, and places must be taken into account when one tries to define what this identity stands for. Italian-Americans have invented their ethnic identity as a response to their settlement in America, to meet their needs as well as to cope with the host society’s requirements.

  • 15 Werner Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity, Consent and Descent in American Culture, New York: Oxford Univers (...)

14It can be said that their new identity relies on two separate but complementary processes, which can be seen as the result of transculturation in the sense that these processes emerged in the context of migration, and because of the maintenance of strong ties with Italy. As Werner Sollors explained15, there is the phenomenon of consent through which men come to find common points to share, new interests to defend; it leads them to build an unprecedented sense of solidarity, even if nothing cultural or social had seemed to unite them previously. The situation that they were living as migrants created a change in their socialization patterns leading them to consent to forming a group. The second phenomenon relies on descent, that is to say the feeling of unity emerging from blood ties. This condition is neither compulsory nor sufficient to feel as one group. Descent can only stimulate the construction of a common identity, but, as it is the sense of belonging that is fundamental, men must be conscious of and put forward this brotherhood to feel as one group. Due to the lack of political unity and cultural homogeneity in the peninsula, Italians did not feel that they were part of a nation; they did not think they shared roots, which explained the impact of campanilismo. But in the United States, they began thinking they were united by blood ties, that they were all the sons of the first Italian migrant in the Americas, namely Christopher Columbus. They invented this sense of filiation with the Genovese navigator when they realized that it could be an advantage for them. Columbus being a national hero from as early as the mid-19th century (resulting in the institutionalization of Columbus Day in 1892), their filiation with him legitimized their presence on American soil, made them part of a group of adventurers, even conquerors, which counterbalanced the negative image they suffered from as migrants. So they united behind the Columbus figure. This process of consent along with the construction of their descent relationships gave them more legitimacy and strength in a country that was reluctant to accept them.

15Though the Italians who migrated at the turn of the century had nothing in common since the unification of the Italian nation was hardly accomplished and as their system of socialization – and identification – relied on campanilismo. In the United States, they were seen as one group (in the censuses for example, they were labelled as «Italians»; Italian colonies were seen as homogenous entities in spite of the mosaic of regions represented and kept separated within the areas). So, Campanilismo was transformed, «nationalized», in the American context. Southern Italians who represented 80% of those who arrived at the turn of the 19/20th century had to face racial and social discrimination from Anglo-Americans and groups of «old immigrants» (the Irish for example) who blamed them for belonging to an inferior race, being poor or bad Catholics. Hence they found shelter in ethnic enclaves and built mutual aid societies to help them face adversity. They gathered together, which boosted their feeling of belonging to the same group of despised and ill-integrated migrants. Though they would have liked to cling to such-or-such village identification, as their traditional system advocated, they progressively acquired a new sense of solidarity. They also realized that, by uniting, they could be stronger and more respected. For example, they showed pride during Columbus Day celebrations; they understood, by forming a political bloc and providing an Italian vote, that their group could be taken into account by political leaders and better defend their interests.

16Such a situation entails national consciousness. They began speaking a new common language (based on Florentine). The sub-national communities that were Little Italies, because of the inner self-segregation of migrants who did not want to mix with others from different regions, became more cohesive. An inter-regional solidarity emerged due to the context of immigration in the United States; the migrants became Italians. In a similar way, they joined national Italian Catholic parishes when the religion of most of Southern Italians was mainly based on paganism. The creation of Italian societies, based on their national solidarity and no longer on regional principles, shows the evolution of their way of seeing themselves as an Italian group. During the Fascist period, they really felt Italians; for Mussolini, a person born in Italy would always remain an Italian; so all the Italians spread through the diaspora all over the world were considered as Italians and could be Fascist agents. Italian migrants became proud of their origins, which seemed to counterbalance the discrimination of which they were victims.

17The process by which the migrants nationalized their identity is the product of the particular context of the turn of the 19/20th century, the necessity to find a balance between the persistence of transnationalism and the assimilationist policy led by the United States who required a further step in the Americanization process of foreigners: the Italianization of the migrants’ identity was to give rise to a form of Italian-American identity for newer generations, what is called ethnicity.

18The representation of racial, ethnic and social relations among Italians as well as their status evolved. They felt they could be part of the two societies. But they differentiated themselves from the majority of the populations in these two territories since they were still subject to discrimination in the United States – they were not seen as first-class citizens yet – while they were no longer physically present in Italy. The question is whether they were members of the two countries or neither. The construction of their double Italian-American identity shows that they felt part of both of them at the same time.

  • 16 Rudolph Vecoli, The Search for an Italian American Identity: Continuity and Change, in Tomasi Lydio (...)

19One of the other consequences of transculturation is the progressive lack of concern with Italy among the newer generations, many of whom did not know Italy, did not speak the language properly, and had been raised in America which was their country while Italy was their parents’. If ties with Italy did exist, they cannot be considered as real transnational activities in the sense that they were not regular. They did not influence nor shape their daily lives. Indeed, Rudolph Vecoli insists on the new identity that was formed among Italian migrants and their children in the United States. Their identity is original because it is different from Italian identity. It began on Ellis Island. It is born out of transculturation, the dynamic interaction between the migrants’ Italian heritage and their adaptation to the American environment: «Their common reaction was to discover that they were not really Italians, but Italian Americans. We discovered that our identities were not found in Italy, but within ourselves, within our own history and culture».16

To an Ethnic Identity

20Transculturation led to the construction of an unprecedented identity among Italian migrants. It is as if they felt both Italian Americans (when they were in the United States) and fully Italians because of their deep-rooted ties with their fatherland’s cultural heritage. Based on the maintenance of some aspects of their socialisation pattern due to transnationalism on the one hand, and on the transformation of some other elements of their cultural heritage due to transculturation, this process of new identification reveals how the descendants of paesani had eventually become Italian-Americans.

21The phenomenon of transculturation brought about the development of an Italian-American identity through the invention of a new culture and a different social status for the children of Italian migrants. In parallel with their upward mobility, their belonging to the labor force, their better education attainment, their joining the national Catholic Church and the Italianization of their regional identification, they became white. Indeed, they have evolved into a new type of men thanks to the construction of an ethnic identity by «renegotiating» their racial status, which stimulated their integration into mainstream America.

  • 17 Thomas Guglielmo, White on Arrival. Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945. New Yor (...)

22This Italian-American identity depended on the new position that new generations found in the American racial hierarchy. When they massively arrived between 1880 and 1920, migrants were not seen as white men.17 Progressively, and eventually after World War II, they managed to «prove» that they belonged to the white American population by distancing themselves from Blacks. Before the Second World War, they were in an intermediary situation, called inbetweenness – that is, a status between Whites and Blacks. They were likely to work with Blacks at the bottom of the occupational ladder – especially in Southern states, they came from poor regions near to Africa – from Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata for instance, and they were dark skinned; they were poorly educated, which placed them in an inferior position on the social and racial ladder when whiteness had always been a criterion for belonging to the majority group. Until the adoption of the fourteenth amendment (1868), only whites could be American citizens, and in fact, until the 1960s, colored men were either deprived of their rights, or discriminated against; in any case they were not seen as first-class citizens. So, for the Italian-Americans, and according to the classical assimilationist meaning of the definition of Americanness, to be American meant to be white – or perceived as white.

  • 18 Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White, New York: Routledge, 1995.
  • 19 Jonathan Rieder, Canarsie. The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn against Liberalism, Cambridge, Mas: Ha (...)

23Indeed, there is a social, political and cultural dimension to whiteness. It does not only refer to the color of the skin. It is also associated with moral, religious and social values. Hence, the definition of whiteness and the perception of men considered as white or non-white could evolve according to the criteria attached to the color and the progress of the integration of individuals. As Noel Ignatiev had shown18, Irish migrants were not seen as white men when they massively arrived in the United States by the mid-19th century but they had acquired the status of white men by the beginning of the 20th century when they were compared with the new wave of migrants coming from Southern Europe. Thus, the process of assimilation comprised a process of whitening. Transculturation led Italians to feel white and to act like white people: if they wanted to be part and parcel of American society, they had to be, or considered as, white. This is why they took to distancing themselves from the black population, especially by the time of the Civil Rights movement when the colored minorities acquired some rights. According to Italians, this situation jeopardized the social advantages their group had acquired. It was also unfair: they considered that their parents and grand-parents had made sacrifices to get what they had; on the contrary, colored groups, Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Hispanics, benefited from public policies in education, housing and health-care without making effort.19 Colored families could come and live next to Italian-American households; colored students could attend the same schools as Italian-American ones; colored unskilled workers came to competing with Italian-American employees. Resentment grew and even led to conflicts in some cases. In the 1970s, in New York City for example, the Italian-American neighborhood of Canarsie, Brooklyn, campaigned against the settlement of Black families in their white area, which resulted in riots; tensions reached a climax in the bias murders that occurred in Howard Beach (Queens) in 1986 and in 1989 in Bensonhurst (Brooklyn) when young Italian-Americans killed Black youths. Italian-Americans felt it necessary to protect their status as well as their territories by opposing Blacks or public measures that favored their social integration. If Italian migrants had remained more or less at the same social level as Blacks in the Anglo-American environment and were seen as foreigners, younger generations wanted to exhibit their difference in order to prove that they were full members of American society, with all the social and political rights that this position implies.

  • 20 Helen Barolini, Festa, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988, p. xii.

24To assert their belonging to the mainstream, they had to change their image, identifying themselves as whites, and adopting a middle-class standard of living and mentality. They turned to the Republican Party in the 1980s (because the Democratic Party has always been associated with minorities). Along with other descendants of European migrants (the Irish, the Poles for example), they became more conservative and more race conscious vis-à-vis the immigration of colored people. They opposed further immigration to the United States, liberal measures for the assistance of the poorest part of the population; they settled in white areas in suburbia, leaving the ethnic colonies founded by their fathers. In addition to relying on the progress of assimilation, their new status also depends on a subjective process of identification: they voluntarily exhibit their Italian ancestry when they feel it relevant – for celebrations, to show their artistic abilities, because Italian food is better than tasteless American food,20 but without compromising their image as Americans.

  • 21 Mary Waters, Ethnic Options. Choosing Identities in America, Berkeley: University of California Pre (...)
  • 22 Herbert Gans, Symbolic Ethnicity: the Future of Ethnic Groups and Cultures in America, in Gans, Her (...)
  • 23 Marie-Christine Michaud, Columbus Day et les Italiens de New York, Paris: Presses Universitaires de (...)

25From a status of foreigner, they have become fully-fledged members of American society by adopting white ethnicity – meaning the right to claim Americanness with the simultaneous possibility, when necessary or so desired, to claim one’s specific ancestry. Contrary to what migrants experienced, among newer generations, ethnicity is not a daily activity or feeling; it is not an intrinsic element to their socialization pattern. It can appear intermittently and it is no longer felt as a need but as a choice because these men are Americans who agree to show their ancestry during particular moments. As Mary Waters put it: «having an ethnic identity is something that makes you both special and simultaneously part of a community»21. Most of the time, it is expressed through symbols22, food, flags, and the evolution of the celebration of Columbus Day can be seen as a reflection of the construction of Italian-American identity.23 First, Columbus Day was for Italian migrants an opportunity to legitimize their presence on American soil and to show their ability to integrate. Now, the commercial purposes, as well as the financial dimension that the celebration comprises, display the impact of the social, economic and political urbanized American environment upon the organizers as well as the participants. Meanwhile, on the second Monday of October, everybody feels Italian. The celebration of Columbus Day shows the advance of transculturation.

  • 24 Jerre Mangione, An Ethnic At Large. A Memoir of America in the Thirties and Forties, Philadelphia: (...)

26Indeed, the two cultural components of the Italian-American identity complement each other, and it is the negotiation between these two elements that gives rise to the particular form of their identity: Italian-American ethnicity is a form of up-dated memory which evolves with the process of integration of the successive generations. It is then clear that it is not biological, rooted in ancestry, but a cultural, social, political, racial construction. It is a process that incorporates memories, the experience of ancestors, and the existing pattern of socialization and adapts them to the context. The ethnic identity of Italian-Americans is the renegotiation of the «original» identity of migrants in order to acquire full recognition. It has given birth to a bicultural Italian-American identity. Sicilian-American writer Jerre Mangione acknowledges that he has adopted a bicultural identity thanks to transculturation. He came to realizing that he was «an ethnic at large, with one foot in [his] Sicilian heritage, the other in the American mainstream»24. He has managed to appropriate the best elements of the two value systems which he has used to construct his new identity. He has thus become a Sicilian-American, and the hyphen puts the two elements on an equal level.

  • 25 Donald Tricarico, Contemporary Italian American Ethnicity: into the Mainstream, in Juliani, Richard (...)

27There is no monolithic culture in the United States because of the presence of foreigners, who, as transmigrants, have kept some parts of their ethnic heritage and have «shared» it with the groups with which they are in contact. The dialogue between the different populations has brought about a revision of the image of migrants as well as their status. The Italians have become Italian-American without a marked rupture but by renegotiating their identity into an ethnic identity, which has produced what Donald Tricarico calls mainstream ethnicity25, which shows the importance of the two aspects of their identity, even their equality. Even if they are Americans, their ethnic originality persists and makes them special, different from the rest of the majority group. This situation may be said to be paradoxical but it rather testifies to both the power of transculturation and men’s ability to adapt to their environment.

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Notes

1 What Linda Basch, Nina Schiller and Cristina Szanton-Blanc introduced was the conceptualization of the phenomenon in the historiography dealing with migration. Linda Basch, Nina Schiller, and Cristina Szanton-Blanc, Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States, New York: Routledge, 1994, p. 7.

2 Max Ascoli, «On the Italian Americans», Common Ground, vol 2, n° 2, 1992.

3 Michael Miller Topp, «The Transnationalism of the Italian–American Left: the Lawrence Strike of 1912 and the Italian Chamber of Labor of New York», Journal of American Ethnic History, vol 17, n° 1 (Fall 1997), p. 39-63.

4 Carlo Tresca, The Autobiography of Carlo Tresca, ed Nunzio Pernicone, New York: John Calandra Italian American Institute, 2003, p. 75.

5 Stefano Luconi, Italian Americans and Transnationalism: Old Wine in New Bottles? in Russo, John Paul and Teri Ann Bengiveno (ed), Italian Passages: Making and Thinking History, New York: AIHA, 2007, p. 79.

6 Luconi, ibid. p. 78-79.

7 New York Times, October 12, 1946: 6.

8 New York Times, October 13, 1948: 15.

9 John Bodnar, The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

10 Philip Gleason, «Identifying Identity. A Semantic History», Journal of American History, vol 69, n° 4, Mars 1983, p. 910-931.

11 Linda Basch, Nina Schiller, and Cristina Szanton-Blanc, op. cit., p. 7.

12 Michael Fischer, Ethnicity and the Post-Modern Arts of Memory, in Clifford, James and George Marcus (ed), The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.

13 Fernando Ortiz, Contrapunteo cubano del tabaco y el azúcar, La Havana: J. Montero, 1940.

14 Address by Vincent Impellitteri, October 11, 1950. Municipal archives, New York City, roll 29, box 57 folder 704.

15 Werner Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity, Consent and Descent in American Culture, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 6.

16 Rudolph Vecoli, The Search for an Italian American Identity: Continuity and Change, in Tomasi Lydio (ed), Italian Americans – New Perspectives, New York: Center for Migration Studies, 1985, p. 106.

17 Thomas Guglielmo, White on Arrival. Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

18 Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White, New York: Routledge, 1995.

19 Jonathan Rieder, Canarsie. The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn against Liberalism, Cambridge, Mas: Harvard University Press, 1985.

20 Helen Barolini, Festa, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988, p. xii.

21 Mary Waters, Ethnic Options. Choosing Identities in America, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990, p. 150.

22 Herbert Gans, Symbolic Ethnicity: the Future of Ethnic Groups and Cultures in America, in Gans, Herbert, Glazer, Nathan, Gusfield, Joseph and Christopher Jencks (ed), On the Making of Americans, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 1979.

23 Marie-Christine Michaud, Columbus Day et les Italiens de New York, Paris: Presses Universitaires de Paris-Sorbonne, 2011.

24 Jerre Mangione, An Ethnic At Large. A Memoir of America in the Thirties and Forties, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978, p. 369.

25 Donald Tricarico, Contemporary Italian American Ethnicity: into the Mainstream, in Juliani, Richard and Philip Cannistraro (ed), Italian Americans: The Search for a Usable Past, New York: AIHA, 1989, p. 260.

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Auteur

Marie-Christine Michaud

Marie-Christine Michaud is professor of American studies in Université de Bretagne-Sud, Lorient (France). She is a member of HCTI (Héritages et Constructions dans le Texte et l’Image) and of AIHA (American Italian Historical Association) now IASA (Italian American Studies Association). The latest books that she published are Columbus Day et les Italiens de New York, Presses Universitaires de Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV, Paris (2011), and Guerres et identités dans les Amériques (ed), Presses Universitaires de Rennes, Rennes (2010).

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Diasporas – Circulations, migrations, histoire est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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