Italian American Identity Politics
New Orleans Marriott
October 3-5, 2013
This year’s conference of the Italian American Studies Associaiton examines the politics of the identifying term “Italian American” from multiple perspectives and in different time periods. The evocation of “Italian American” for political purposes and agendas has a varied history, e.g., to combat anti-Italian American discrimination, to rally allegiance to Mussolini’s Fascist regime, or to support feminism. In addition to various ideological positions, the structures for conjuring and maintaining ethnic identity have also been myriad, including newspapers, the Catholic Church, commercial marketing, voluntary associations, and social media sites. What are the social conditions in which the ever-changing narratives of collective identity are formulated and perpetuated? How are ethnic symbols and practices mustered and re-invented at the service of “Italian American?” And ultimately, how do competing politics reveal and engender intragroup tensions but possibly also productive dialogue, both of which might re-configure understandings and enactments of the very term “Italian American?”
Suggested paper topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
Who gets to speak for Italian Americans, both within and outside of academia, political venues, cultural venues, etc.?;
The use of identity politics by community leaders, the press, scholars, and others;
The limitations and/or role of public policy in shaping and/or supporting Italian American identities/communities, e.g., public housing during the 1930s-1940s, suburban development during the 1950s and 1960s, the celebration of Columbus Day;
The self-conscious development and use of cultural and expressive forms of ethnic identity;
The co-opting of identity politics by consumerist culture, from reality television to Olive Garden commercials;
Resistance to elite notions of Italian-American identity;
The role of voluntary organizations in the formation of a politicized and political Italian-American collective identity; and
Italian Americans as a political entity in electoral politics, in Italy’s voting abroad, in relation to political activism or electoral politics in other countries with an Italian diaspora.
The conference is interdisciplinary and inter-genre in its perspective and thus is open to scholars in different disciplines, creative writers (novelists, poets, and memoirists), and visual and media artists. The conference committee is open to papers not addressing this year’s conference theme. For more information, please visit www.italianamericanstudies.net.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: JUNE 15, 2013.
Abstracts for scholarly papers (up to 500 words, plus a note on technical requirements) and a brief, narrative biography should be emailed as attached documents, by June 15, 2013, to email@example.com, to whom other inquiries may also be addressed.
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