Analyzes the process by which people of Italian descent renegotiated their sense of community and ethnic self-perception in Philadelphia from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth. Luconi (history, U. of Florence) describes the time-driven progression of immigrants' comradeship with only those from common Italian regions to increased feelings of solidarity with all Italians, and explores the effects of the civil rights movements, the effects of which climaxed in extreme polarization during the time of Frank Rizzo's mayoral campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Analyzes the process by which people of Italian descent renegotiated their sense of community and ethnic self-perception in Philadelphia from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth. At the turn of the century, Italian immigrants who arrived in Philadelphia originally formed allegiances and social clusters based on their localistic, provincial, or regional ties. By the late 1930s, however, the emergence of Italian nationalism together with the end of mass immigration from Italy and the appearance of an American-born second generation of individuals with loose ties to the land of their parents contributed to bring together Italian Americans from disparate local backgrounds and helped them to develop a common national identity that they had lacked upon arrival in the United States. Luconi explains how Italian Americans continued to distance themselves from other European minorities throughout the early postwar years until ethnic defensiveness against the alleged encroachments of African Americans as well as racial tensions over housing forced them to extend the boundaries of their ethnic identity in the 1960s and to redefine it within the broader context of the white ethnic movement. This process climaxed as Philadelphia polarized along racial lines on issues such as public education and crime in the late 1960s and at the time of Frank Rizzo's mayoral campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s.About the Author:
Stefano Luconi is Adjunct Professor of History of North America at the University of Florence, Italy.
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