Italian American Material Culture: A Directory of Collections, Sites, and Festivals in the United States and Canada

Italian American Material Culture: A Directory of Collections, Sites, and Festivals in the United States and Canada

Italian American Material Culture: A Directory of Collections, Sites, and Festivals in the United States and Canada

Italian American Material Culture: A Directory of Collections, Sites, and Festivals in the United States and Canada

Synopsis

This timely publication complements existing Italian American and Italian Canadian bibliographies and guides to collections by focusing on material culture and photographic collections, historic sites, and festivals. An introductory overview is followed by the identification of objects, photographic images, and oral histories held by museums and other repositories. Buildings, towns, and neighborhoods associated with Italian American history, as well as over 100 religious feasts and secular festivals are included. The volume concludes with a selective bibliography and name and subject indexes.

Excerpt

In the past twenty-five years the United States and Canada have witnessed a growing interest in ethnicity. This interest was first fueled by the civil rights movement in the United States and the move toward an official policy of multiculturalism in Canada. It was rekindled by the United States Bicentennial, the publication and broadcast of Alex Haley's novel Roots, and the centennial of the Statue of Liberty. It has spawned journals and newsletters, a revival of national ethnic organizations, and the establishment of special libraries and festivals. It has been of equal concern to academic historians and to the general public.

Interest in the study of material culture, as a means of explicating traditional and popular culture, has also grown steadily. Since 1980, journals and newsletters have been founded to disseminate ideas about material culture; studies, monographs, and anthologies of major articles have been published; and museums large and small are taking a more careful, culturally based approach to the interpretation of their collections.

The Greenwood Press series of Material Culture Directories brings together the studies of ethnicity and material culture. Modeled on Greenwood's Museums, Sites, and Collections of Germanic Culture in North America (compiled by Margaret Hobbie, 1980), the series is the first concerted effort to locate and describe ethnic material culture and photographic collections in the United States and Canada. Most of the directories in the series go beyond the German volume to include chapters on festivals, which in some communities afford outsiders the best -- often the only -- access to a group's material culture.

Each volume in itself raises fundamental questions about the role of material culture in ethnic identity -- what has been preserved, by whom, where, and why? But the series is not meant to stand alone. It is, rather, an attempt to encourage further investigation into the role of material culture in the lives of North American ethnic communities -- studies of the signs and symbols that help establish ethnic identity, or examinations of "everyday" material culture and the extent to which it reflects traditional or mainstream values.

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