Cover image for From paesani to white ethnics : the Italian experience in Philadelphia
From paesani to white ethnics : the Italian experience in Philadelphia
Luconi, Stefano.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Albany : State University of New York Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
x, 264 pages ; 24 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F158.9.I8 L83 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Examines the transformations of Italian American ethnic identity in twentieth-century Philadelphia.

Author Notes

Stefano Luconi is Adjunct Professor of History of North America at the University of Florence, Italy.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Stefano Luconi delivers a compelling study of 20th-century identity politics in From Paesani to White Ethnics: The Italian Experience in Philadelphia. Focusing on key historical moments ("World War I... offered... Italians and Italian Americans... a chance to construct some sense of their common... identity"), Luconi traces political and personal enactments of race relations. His incisive investigation of the mayoral tenure and many campaigns of Police Commissioner Frank L. Rizzo during the 1970s and '80s is especially astute: initially the recipient of "trans-ethnic white support" due to those constituents' "dislike of racial conflict," Mayor Rizzo, he finds, fueled racial animosity by catering to white Philadelphians. ( Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Taking issue with contentions that a sense of "Italianness" was already apparent among Italians in 19th-century Philadelphia, Luconi (Univ. of Florence) argues that the growing Italian community that appeared in the city by the 1890s was instead characterized by Old World village and provincial identities. In the century that followed, Italian Americans "renegotiated" their ethnic identity according to various pressures. Beginning in the WW I era, localism gave way to a consciousness of national identity, in part because of conditions that affected Italy. Italy's role in WW I as a US ally, the growth of Mussolini's fascist state, the US's eventual conflict with Italy, and post-WW II concerns about communism in Italy all raised Italian American sensitivities about Italy's destiny. Within the US, consciousness of a common ancestry was strengthened by the appearance of negative Mafia stereotypes, the radicalism native-born Americans associated with Italians, and the 1924 Quota Act that restricted Italian immigration. Not until the 1960s and 1970s, when various ethnic groups concluded that African American civil rights efforts threatened their interests, did Italian ethnic consciousness give way to a broader identity with white ethnics. Luconi provides a readable, organized book supported by extensive notes and lengthy bibliography. J. P. Rodechko Wilkes University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Abbreviationsp. ix
Chapter 1 Introduction: Ethnicity as a Social Construction and the Case of Italian Americansp. 1
Chapter 2 The Transposition of Subnational Identitiesp. 17
Chapter 3 The Development of a National Identityp. 39
Chapter 4 Italianness in the Depression Yearsp. 57
Chapter 5 The Impact of World War II and Its Aftermathp. 95
Chapter 6 From Italian Americans to White Ethnicsp. 119
Chapter 7 Conclusionp. 149
Notesp. 159
Bibliographyp. 211
Indexp. 255