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Abstract

The authors presented here have researched and investigated the role of the ethnic aspect in determining the identity and political choices of immigrants and their descendants in North America and Brazil.
The essay by Mormino and Pozzetta examines the formation of Italian-American ethnic identity during the period of the Second World War through the celebration of Columbus Day. Here, Christopher Columbus is seen as the first Italian to escape the reactionary Italian ruling class thus opening the way for other Italians who sought refuge in America in search of liberty and democracy. Italian anti-fascists in America, in turning to the democratic tradition in order to combat fascism, proved that Italian-Americans were an integrated and, in fact, essential part of the country of Jefferson and Lincoln.
The difficulties of Italian anti-fascism in Brazil are examined in a comparative essay by Bertonha which underlines the role played in the dissemination of fascist sentiment among the Italian community by the support the regime enjoied in the country, in particular during the thirties, by the ability of Italian diplomats and by the dominant repressive politics which dominated post 1935 Brazil. The author also points out to the divisions among the antifascists as responsable of the mentioned difficulties.
Candeloro examines the difficult progress of Italian-American political leaders in Illinois, giving particular attention to Chicago, beginning with the first settlements in the state, moving through the dark years of prohibition to the present. The uncertain future of the role exercised by ethnic identity can be determined, according to the author, with the birth of inter-ethnic diplomats, capable of uniting traditional cultural values with economic interests, super partes. In this sense, the presence of Italian-Americans in both parties is seen as an encouraging sign.
LaGumina analyzes the historical role played by ethnic politics on the local level, using the example of New York. He shows how Italian-Americans gradually managed to enter the American political process as they began to realize how to organize themselves as an electoral block. The electoral results of 1997 show that the majority of the 18 million residents of New York state are governed by Italian-Americans, even though residents of Italian origin make up only sixteen percent of the state. In the larger cities in the state, i.e. New York, Buffalo and Syracuse, the mayors are of Italian origin: Rudolph Giuliani, Anthony Masiello and Roy Bernardi. In the case of New York, Italian-Americans have been fully accepted as political leaders.
Verdicchio analyzes Italian-Canadians and cultural politics in dealing with ethnicity from a literary viewpoint. In his essay, he states that Canadians of Italian origin, more than any other ethnic group, are following the American model, moving away from the trend of Canadian multi-culturalism which had resulted in greater invisibility. The author investigates the role exercised by regional dialects in abandoning the Italian language and considers how much this has influenced the Italian-Canadians’ lack of loyalty toward their community.

 

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