Anti-Italianism: Essays on a Prejudice

Anti-Italianism: Essays on a Prejudice


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There has been an odd reluctance on the part of students of the Italian American experience to confront the discrimination faced by Italians and Americans of Italian ancestry. This volume is a bold attempt by an esteemed group of scholars and writers to discuss the question openly by charting the historical and cultural boundaries of stereotypes, prejudice, and assimilation. Contributors offer a continuous series of encounters in history, literature, film, radio, and television that deserve the attention of anyone interested in the larger themes of American history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780230108301
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date: 09/28/2011
Series: Italian and Italian American Studies
Edition description: 2010
Pages: 210
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

William J. Connell holds the Joseph M. and Geraldine C. La Motta Chair in Italian Studies at Seton Hall University.  He has published numerous books on Italian history.  In 2009 he was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Deputazione di Storia Patria per la Toscana. 

Fred Gardaphé is Distinguished Professor of Literature, CUNY. He is the editor of Italian American Ways; Shades of Black and White: Conflict and Collaboration Between Two Communities; and From the Margin: Writings in Italian Americana, among others.

Table of Contents

Contributors ix

Preface William J. Connell xi

Introduction: Invisible People: Shadows and Light in Italian American Writing Fred Gardaphé 1

1 Darker Aspects of Italian American Prehistory William J. Connell 11

2 "Between White Men and Negroes": The Perception of Southern Italian Immigrants Through the Lens of Italian Lynchings Peter Vellon 23

3 "Utterly Faithless Specimens": Italians in the Catholic Church in America Peter R. D'Agostino 33

4 Perversions of Knowledge: Confronting Racist Ideologies behind Intelligence Testing Elizabeth G. Messina 41

5 Frank Sinatra and Notions of Tolerance: The House I Live In Anthony Julian Tamburri 67

6 What Luigi Basco Taught America about Italian Americans Dominic L. Candeloro 77

7 Affirmative Action for Italian Americans: The City University of New York Story Joseph V. Scelsa 87

8 The Changing Roles of Italian American Women: Reality vs. Myth Susanna Tardi 95

9 Prejudice and Discrimination: The Italian American Experience Yesterday and Today Salvatore J. LaGumina 107

10 "Good Enough": An Italian American Memoir Joanne Detore-Nakamura 117

11 Stereotypes Sell, But We're Not for Sale Gina Valle 131

12 Shark Tale-"Puzza da cap'": An Attempt at Ethnic Activism Jerome Krase 137

13 If Defamation Is Serious, Why Don't Italian American Organizations Take It Seriously? LindaAnn Loschiavo 151

14 Narrating Guido: Contested Meanings of an Italian American Youth Subculture Donald Tricarico 163

Index 201

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"From its bold introduction, through its superb research on racism and intelligence testing, to its intensely challenging concluding essay, this stylish collection is by turns deeply historical, movingly, impressively interdisciplinary, and productively combative. United in their themes, but not outlook, the selections offer constant surprises and much food for thought." - David Roediger, Babcock Professor of History, University of Illinois and author of How Race Survived U.S. History

"This is one of those very rare books that narrate an important and forgotten story - the experience of American anti-Italianism - and recount it in a rigorous and touching manner, combining historical, sociological and personal perspectives. Italian-Americans must know this story to be aware of how painful it had been for their parents and their grandparents to be accepted and recognized in America. Italians must know it to learn how painful the discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping they are now too often inflicting on immigrants are." - Maurizio Viroli, Professor of Politics, Princeton University

"At first blush, anti-Italianism seems like a comic punchline, the premise of a Sopranos or Jersey Girls episode rather than the subject of a serious book. Yet behind the wisecracks about gangsters and 'Guidos' lay a long and complex history - a history of pervasive exclusion and persistent stereotyping, of defiant bravado and habitual self-deprecation. As the contributors to this path-breaking collection show, the history of anti-Italian prejudice has much to tell us not only about the Italian American experience but also about the past and future of America as a whole." - James T. Campbell, Edgar E. Robinson Professorof United States History, Stanford University and author of Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1789-2005

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