University of Illinois Press

Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Centennial Series

Published by: University of Illinois Press

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Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Centennial Series

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Beyond Cannery Row

Sicilian Women, Immigration, and Community in Monterey, California, 1915-99

Carol Lynn McKibben

Presenting a nuanced story of women, migration, community, industry, and civic life at the turn of the twentieth century, Carol Lynn McKibben's Beyond Cannery Row analyzes the processes of migration and settlement of Sicilian fishers from three villages in Western Sicily to Monterey, California--and sometimes back again. _x000B_McKibben's analysis of gender and gender roles shows that it was the women in this community who had the insight, the power, and the purpose to respond and even prosper amid changing economic conditions. Vividly evoking the immigrants' everyday experiences through first-person accounts and detailed description, McKibben demonstrates that the cannery work done by Sicilian immigrant women was crucial in terms of the identity formation and community development. These changes allowed their families to survive the challenges of political conflicts over citizenship in World War II and intermarriage with outsiders throughout the migration experience. The women formed voluntary associations and celebrated festas that effectively linked them with each other and with their home villages in Sicily. Continuous migration created a strong sense of transnationalism among Sicilians in Monterey, which has enabled them to continue as a viable ethnic community today. _x000B_

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A New Language, A New World

Italian Immigrants in the United States, 1890-1945

Nancy C. Carnevale

An examination of Italian immigrants and their children in the early twentieth century, A New Language, A New World is the first full-length historical case study of one immigrant group's experience with language in America. Incorporating the interdisciplinary literature on language within a historical framework, Nancy C. Carnevale illustrates the complexity of the topic of language in American immigrant life. By looking at language from the perspectives of both immigrants and the dominant culture as well as their interaction, this book reveals the role of language in the formation of ethnic identity and the often coercive context within which immigrants must negotiate this process. _x000B__x000B_Carnevale provides the context for understanding the linguistic history of Italian Americans by presenting a brief overview of the politics of language in Italy, with its racialized split between North and South, multiple dialects, and class divisions. Exploring a range of issues faced by Italians once they reached the United States, Carnevale considers the immigrant perspective on translation in both a literal linguistic sense and a figurative translation of self-identity. Italian Americans found a familiar voice in the popular entertainer Farfariello, whose comic songs incorporating the Italo-American idiom expressed problems of immigrant life as problems of communication--often between the sexes--suggesting the centrality of language in the immigrant imagination. And with the rise of fascism in the Italian homeland, the Italian language took on even more conflicted meanings in America as Italian Americans were regarded with suspicion and scrutiny.

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