Between Peasant and Urban Villager: Italian-Americans of New Jersey and New York, 1880-1980: the Structures of Counter-Discourse

Between Peasant and Urban Villager: Italian-Americans of New Jersey and New York, 1880-1980: the Structures of Counter-Discourse

Between Peasant and Urban Villager: Italian-Americans of New Jersey and New York, 1880-1980: the Structures of Counter-Discourse

Between Peasant and Urban Villager: Italian-Americans of New Jersey and New York, 1880-1980: the Structures of Counter-Discourse

Excerpt

This book began inadvertently. Ironically enough, it was initiated in a graduate seminar entitled "History and Theory." Along the way, after a chance reading of the radical historiography on the American south, I was captivated by the notion of continuity. Were the African-American sharecroppers really that much better off than their slave predecessors? Did Reconstruction really make that much of a difference by the end of the nineteenth century? Thinking seriously about these questions kept bringing me back to a simultaneous interest in Italian-Americans. How different were third and fourth generation Italian-Americans from their peasant ancestors of the nineteenth century? Had settlement in urban New Jersey and New York really changed them? What has the experience of migration meant for subsequent generations?

Thus began a project culminating in this book. Scholars have done a magnificent job of portraying Italian migration and its demographic consequences in the nineteenth century and beyond. Labor and social historians have been equally successful in depicting the daily reality of . . .

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