Italian Americans: Bridges to Italy, Bonds to America

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The artist and sculptor designed a commemorative stamp picturing the pilot and his plane, the Spirit of St. Walter F. Brown, the U. Postmaster General, authorized a th anniversary commemorative "Battle of Braddock" 2-cent stamp to be designed by Vittor and issued on July 9, , the anniversary of the battle. The artwork he created featured his statue of Colonel George Washington with the inscription "Battle of Braddock's Field, In the U. Congress authorized minting a half-dollar coin to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the American Civil War.

Linda Carlozzi. An Extraordinary Italian American Woman

Vittor was the person selected to design the coin. The obverse depicts the profile of two soldiers, one from the North and one from the South and the reverse holds a symbol of the battle placed between the combatant's shields. The coins were distributed through the Pennsylvania State Commission for Gettysburg. Throughout Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities there exist more than 50 statues and fountains, as well as numerous other works, including a dozen historical panels on county bridges, and World War I memorials in at least five different cities.

Vittor also created a foot 3. For several years Vittor was an instructor of art and sculpture at the Carnegie Institute and the Carnegie Institute of Technology. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Frank Vittor. Back Matter Pages Here, Donald Tricarico investigates how Italian ethnicity has been used to fashion Guido as a distinct youth style that signals inclusion in popular American culture and, simultaneously, the making of a new ethnic subject. Emerging from a wave of Italian immigration after World War II in outer borough neighborhoods such as Bensonhurst, the story of the Guido is an Italian American story, symbolizing the negotiation of a negatively privileged ethnicity within American society.

Tricarico takes up questions about the definition of Guido, the role of disco, and the identity politics of Jersey Shore in order to reconsider the significance of Guido for the study of Italian American ethnicity. Italian American culture Italian studies s Do Wop Jersey Shore Guido culture New York City Italian heritage Italian New York City ethnography ethnic youth subcultures Italian American ethnicity youth agency disco culture constructionist model of ethnicity segmented assimilation model of ethnicity ethnic youth identity Bensonhurst Brooklyn.

The response was fre- quently the ritualization of domestic life and private consumption; i. The religious and secular festivities of the year and life cycle produced the home as an ethnic haven, which contrasted with a worldly and alienating public world. It was in this context of cele- bration of family communion, memory, and cultural difference that the production, preparation, and consumption of ethnic food gained much of their symbolic power, and skills in food preparation came to embody ideals of womanhood.

Original food patterns were revisited and reinvent- ed as a result of market conditions, the availability of ingredients, exchange between cooks, and so on, but the resulting Italian American cuisines were held and felt as authentic on the account of their cohesive social relevance. A third place of consumption that was object of intense material and emotional investment on the part of Italian immigrants was indeed the community.

Notwithstanding the fragility of these businesses, weakened by the competition caused by their number and the poverty of their customer base, until World War II modern consumer institutions such as the chain stores or the supermarkets made characteristically very little inroads into Italian neighborhoods Luconi, this issue. At the neighborhood level, consumer institutions and practices consis- tently made the Italian immigrant communities. Historian Robert Orsi has recounted the story of the early Italian immigrants to East Harlem in the late s; bricklayers and hod carriers, whom, after their backbreaking job, returned home to gratuitously put their labor and skills in the con- struction of a new Italian church dedicated to the Madonna of Mount Carmel.

By piecemeal building the church, they planted deep roots in the original swamp land on the bank of the East River; roots they watered with their own sweat. The church was supposed not only to be a place for local Italian Catholics to worship and to host a very popular replica of the annual feast of the Madonna that was held in the small Southern Italian town from where many of the immigrants came from, but to stay in its place, as it does, long after they would be gone.

Italian Americans : Bridges to Italy, Bonds to America -

The consumer behavior of Italian immigrants embodied their significant investment in their com- munity and neighborhood. In Italian Harlem, the annual festa of the Madonna was the occasion for consuming and filling the public space of the neighborhood of Italian smells, flavors, colors, and sounds, thus reclaiming for the Italians those streets, tenements, parks, and empty lots.

In fact, for many early-twentieth-century social workers, doctors, teachers, and settlement house activists working with Italian immigrants, observation and surveying was just the preliminary step to practice and reform. They consistently strived to modernize Italian American consumer practices. Prohibition — was just the extreme manifesta- tion of wide-ranging progressive consumer reform efforts aimed at facili- tating the transformation of immigrant peasants into citizens, immigrant women into dependable mothers and housewives, and immigrant men into disciplined and efficient workers.

Poor, Catholic, dark- haired and olive-skinned, imagined as the latest offspring of an ancient Mediterranean civilization redolent of magic, sensuality, honor, and vendetta, the Southern Italian women and men who populated the quar- ters of the great American cities were a treasure of cultural difference against which other Americans could dialogically construct their identity Bakhtin.

Then she must die! In the gaze of the American flaneur Benjamin , Little Italies thus became sites of cultural disorders [. Hansen , Italian Americans emerged as the quintessen- tially exotic Euro-American ethnic group, ready to be commoditized in a variety of products and experiences.

The consumption of Italian American subjects was instrumen- tal to the consumption of Italian American places. In sum, narratives of Italian American otherness were from the very begin- ning both largely based on the public identities that immigrants shaped and displayed by means of their selective acquisition and use of goods and the seductiveness of those same identities for a wide and diverse American consuming public.

Can a general statement on the wider moral and political significance of Italian immigrant consumer culture and its cross-cultural consumption be drawn?

Contradictions overcome univocal contentions. At first sight it certainly seems that Italian Americans used their novel purchasing power in a politically conserva- tive way, largely privileging private consumption over public involve- ment. Italian immigrants are conspicuously absent from all major histori- cal accounts of working-class consumer activism Heinze; Jacobs; Frank; Orleck; Murray. Italian immigrant consumerism definitely revealed an appreciation of the tangible material rewards, especially in terms of a rich family life, that the American capitalist system could provide.

But it is very dubious that the Italian Ameri- can brand of consumerism could ever function per se as a consensus-pro- ducing machine of the kind that neo-Marxist critics of the like of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer or Herbert Marcuse theorized. As such, it was not even necessarily, or not necessarily felt as, an alternative to the radical movements of social reform to which many Italian American women and men participated in those years J. Guglielmo; Cannistraro and Meyer.

Indeed, especially after the war, many second-generation Italian Amer- icans thought that dismissing the consumer tastes and styles shaped by their parents was the way to go to attain social and physical mobility and achieve full American citizenship. But many clues suggest that at that point they had interiorized this set of values and meanings to such an extent that they continued, consciously or unconsciously, to make sense of an all-changing world through it.

Italian American Consumers and the Commodification of Difference: Class and Ethnicity in the Long s In fact, even in the s and early 60s — supposedly the age of consent, mass consumerism, and timidity toward the public manifestation of ethnic diversity by the children and grandchildren of Ellis Island immigrants — every major ethnographic account of Italian American life would draw attention to the existence of a distinctive Italian American consumer cul- ture.

Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. Just as their Chicago counterparts, West Enders did not care about the latest fashion — something they felt was representative of the distant, unnecessarily affected, or unauthentic ways of middle-class life. Rather, young Italian men preferred to display their idea of style, taste, and masculinity through the care for their cars.

It was taken as a given, for example, that quiz shows were pre- arranged. Even in the heyday of mass markets and one-dimensional men, such Italian American identities produced via Italian American consumer cul- ture were commodified and eagerly consumed as cultural difference. Italian American food, for example — a mass-reproducible, canned, and packaged version of which was being made available to American tables by the national food industry — conveyed the values of authenticity, sol- idarity, and commensality contextualized in sites such as home, family and community, to which white middle-class America looked with long- ing and nostalgia.

Those values and places were very much part of the culture of the era, and yet sensed as paradises lost Coontz; Lipsitz. The consumer values and meanings Gans talked about in his discussion of refrigerators were graphically represented, with no need for translation, in a popular commercial for Prince Spaghetti.

In the commercial, twelve-year boy Anthony Martignetti real name ran past the open-air market and rows of tenement houses in the Italian North End of Boston to come home to his mother and be embraced in a warm, nurturing, heav- ily matriarchal atmosphere of good food and family. If Dean Martin, Connie Francis, Louis Prima, and Frankie Valli all embod- ied such cultural traits to a certain degree, it was the immensely popular Frank Sinatra to represent them all, and demonstrate the dramatic fungibil- ity of this distinctive Italian American style Ferraro.

If Frank Sinatra is in much demand by the media entrepreneurs and yet can act like a quasi-West Ender, he must be better therefore than his employers. In the American popular culture lexicon, in fact, the crooner and the doo-wopper functioned much like the cinematic gangster. Like any other marketable Italian American identity, the s-early 60s working-the-system narrative and its commodification were heavily gendered and transnational in scope and nature.

In the late s, the actress finally immigrated to the US to sweep box offices and film magazines. On the American screen, she became the embodiment of a highly subversive idea of unabashed female sensual- ity that was both attractive and seen as typical of the spontaneous popular world.

Overall, in the face of their own social mobility as a group, in the and early 60s Italian Americans catered to the imaginary needs of the rest of America as the perfect representatives of an otherwise receding white working-class ethnicity. Yet, being among the poorest of the immigrant groups that had arrived to America at the turn of the century, and at the same time being more often homeowners than renters, a number of them remained in the ranks of the working class and in the inner cities, where they were sup- posed to be preserving white ethnic neighborhoods from racial integra- tion and decay.

A convenient reser- voir of otherness for mid-century and pre-Civil Rights American nation- building projects, they seemed to have just the right amount of cultural capital to be credible endorsers of a variety of ethnic-branded products. Italian American Consumers and the Commodification of Difference: In a Postindustrial and Multicultural America Consumer styles, patterns, and meanings elaborated by early-twenti- eth-century immigrants and further developed by the American-born generations in or out receding urban enclaves, resurfaced, to be trans- formed and redirected, in the wake of the new consumer economy which dawned in the early s.

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Historians and theorists of consumer society agree that the counterculture, civil rights movement, and resuming immi- gration of the s constituted a turning point which revolutionized American consumer culture, ironically paving the way for the triumph of late-capitalist consumerism in the Reaganite s and after.

The empty space left by fading work was filled by a swelling cultural industry whose most enduring role was to inflate commodities with symbolic value, so that the new postmodern consumers, liberated from the constrictions of modern social order, could go ahead and fashion their individual selves through selective consumption of a multifarious variety of goods and experiences.

In this context, cultural difference, ethnicity, and authenticity became themselves commodities, as they added significant value to products. A dramatically expanding class of cultural mediators and marketers of any kind and status oversaw the entire process, while new institutions and sites of consumption, like the mall and themed environments, radically changed American public space and ways of everyday life L. Italian Americans, arguably more than any other white ethnic group, were main actors in the different stages of this process.

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The political tur- moil and ensuing struggle for cultural identity of the s suggested even to many middle-class Italian Americans that the simple white American identity for which they had been striving for, reaping material rewards in the process, was not desirable anymore. Through ethnic asso- ciations, ethnic festivals, ethnic literature, ethnic film and TV, ethnic food, heritage tourism, and study abroad programs, they increasingly reclaimed a different kind of whiteness — a hyphenated American iden- tity that paid homage to their unique heritage and experience in the United States.

The End of Work, with its corollary of a shrinking working class, vanishing social con- flict as it had been known and articulated since the nineteenth century, and the culturalization of the entire society Rifkin , turned the Italian immigrant past into something that was neither threatening nor shameful anymore, but an heritage to cherish and be proud of; an authentic lifestyle that had gone forever, but could be experienced vicariously, through images, sounds, and memories — visited as a tourist attraction Lowen- thal in ghettos turned into Disneylands Conforti; Napoli.

Genealogical research, self-made family history, and community oral history exploded as a mass phenomenon among Italian Americans one or more generations remote from poor, illiterate Ellis Island grandmothers and grandfathers who had been up to that point conveniently kept in the closet of memory.

The worth of the investment was legitimated by history departments in the best American universities — whose faculties now included many third-generation immigrants — which concurrently began to celebrate the immigrant saga, and within it particularly the resistance of first-genera- tion protagonists to be melted in the assimilation pot now seen as the Golem of Immigration History. With the ethnic revival — a quintessen- tially postmodern social movement — new ways and meanings of con- sumption and sociability opened up to the vast public of Italian Ameri- cans with the necessary disposable money, time, and culture.

Major national brands advertised their high-end products cars, clothes, shoes, cruises, etc.