Making Italian AmericaConsumer Culture and the Production of Ethnic Identities

Making Italian AmericaConsumer Culture and the Production of Ethnic Identities

Simone Cinotto

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780823256235

Publisher: Fordham University Press


Exploring Italian American consumers and the U.S. consumption of Italianness, Making Italian America makes a compelling case for taste as a leading determinant of ethnic identity. Discussing in fresh ways topics as diverse as immigrant women’s fashion, critiques of consumerism in Italian immigrant radicalism, the Cold-War politics of consumption across the Atlantic, the Italian American influence in early rock ‘n’ roll, ethnic tourism in Little Italy, Guido subculture, film, sports, and bodybuilding, Making Italian America recasts Italian immigrants and their children as active consumers who, since the turn of the twentieth century, have creatively managed to articulate relations of race, gender, and class and create distinctive lifestyles out of materials the marketplace offered to them. Grounded in the new scholarship in transnational U.S. history and the transfer of cultural patterns, fourteen essays explore Italian American history in the light of consumer culture, across more than a century-long intense movement of people, goods, money, ideas, and images between Italy and the United States—a diasporic exchange that has transformed both nations. In the introduction, Simone Cinotto builds an imaginative analytical framework for understanding the ways in which ethnic and racial groups have shaped their collective identities and negotiated their place in the consumers’ emporium and marketplace. Making Italian America appraises how immigrants and their children forged their identities, material cultures and lifestyles, redesigned the market to suit their tastes, and in the process made Italian American identities—incorporated in commodities, commercial leisure, and popular representations—the object of desire for millions of American and global consumers.

Table of Contents

Part One Immigrants Encounter and Remake U.S. Consumer Society: The Shaping of Italian American Identities Through Commodities and Commercial Leisure, 1900–1930

1 Visibly Fashionable

Vittoria Caterina Caratozzolo

2 Making Space for Domesticity

Tirabassi Maddalena

4 Sovereign Consumption

Giorgio Bertellini

5 Consuming La Bella Figura

Dominique Padurano

6 Radical Visions and Consumption

Marcella Bencivenni

Part Two The Politics and Style of Italian American Consumerism, 1930–1980

9 Italian Doo-Wop

Simone Cinotto

10 Consuming Italian Americans

Danielle Battisti

Part Three Consuming Italian American Identities in the Multicultural Age, 1980 to the Present

12 Sideline Shtick

John Gennari

14 We Are Family

Fabio Parasecoli

End Matter