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Eh, Paesan!

Eh, Paesan!: Being Italian in Toronto

Nicholas DeMaria Harney
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  • Book Info
    Eh, Paesan!
    Book Description:

    Today?s Italian-Canadians face different images than previous generations. An exploration of the reproduction of cultural heritage in a global economy of rapid international communication.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7431-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1. Entering the Field: Ethnicity, Space, and Transnationalism
    (pp. 3-11)

    Eh, Paesan!explores the ambiguities and tonalities of ethnicity in a North American city. More specifically it situates contemporary concerns in anthropology regarding transnationalism and diaspora communities within the lived experiences of men and women of Italian heritage in Toronto, Canada. Viewing ethnicity as a social construction, I investigate how it is constituted both within the social and physical space of this polyethnic city and within the transnational and diaspora circuits of Italian migration.¹ Italian immigrants and their children make choices within the social, political, and economic structures that shape, deny, and offer opportunities for them to create meaningful worlds...

  6. 2. Italy, Migration, and Settlement in Canada
    (pp. 12-38)

    The history of emigration from southern Italy and the impoverished northern areas beyond the economic Milan-Genoa-Turin triangle reflects the economic deprivation of these regions and the movement of talent to opportunity. In the south, intensive cultivation, dry summers, mountainous topography, and poor soil produced deforestation and erosion, and prevented the use of mechanized farming techniques (Schachter 1965). Centuries of exploitation for the benefit of central and northern governments limited southern economic development (Fortunate 1911; Nitti 1958; Gramsci 1966). Semi-feudal land tenure arrangements and the constant subdivision of land to accommodate inheritances for sons and dowries for daughters produced an ever-decreasing...

  7. 3. Gifts and Ethnicity
    (pp. 39-51)

    Early on in my fieldwork I had an ordinary experience for anyone beginning encounters with new situations or even revisiting seemingly familiar territory with a new focus.

    I had been out with a friend, at a store that sold Italian ceramic dishes. I was on friendly terms with the store owners, young people my age of south Italian heritage, who had an exclusive import deal with a famous ceramicist from the region of Puglia on the heel of Italy. I wanted to buy several dishes as a gift for my mother and I had made this known to my friend....

  8. 4. The Piazza of Corporate Unity
    (pp. 52-79)

    The reward for giving in support of communal imaginings is the actual construction of a project such as a community centre, which creates a field in which to view the obligations that are tied in to giving and receiving. Here, giving and status play are open to the scrutiny of the ethnic community and to the curiousity of the host society. Clifford Geertz has said that ‘at base, thinking is a public activity – its natural habitat is the houseyard, the marketplace and the town square’ (1973:360–1). A metaphor used by many to describe the Columbus Centre – the...

  9. 5. Remembering the Apennines and Building the Centres: Italian Regionalism in Canada
    (pp. 80-101)

    I attended the groundbreaking today of the Casa D’Abruzzo apartment for seniors at the corner of Keele Street and Highway 401. It was a cool dreary day, but that did not stop more than two hundred people from coming to the muddy construction site to listen to speeches. Odoardo di Santo, and Gino Ventresca, who spearheaded the project, hosted Premier Rae; Anthony Perruzza, MPP; Tony Silipo, MPP and minister of community and social services (and the highest ranking cabinet member of Italian heritage); Joe Volpe, MP (I assume he took part because there is federal CMHC mortgaging); Richard Allen, MPP...

  10. 6. Culture, Calcio, and Centro Scuola: Italian-Canadian Collective Pedagogy
    (pp. 102-123)

    This chapter interprets a site of ethnocultural leadership and social thinking, Centro Canadese Scuola e Cultura Italiana (the Canadian Centre for Italian Culture and Education). Centro Scuola is a cultural storehouse for the Italian-Canadian community. It leads the effort to sustain its polity through cultural activities, language, and sports education for youth. It is also the central institution that mediates the flows of Italian culture and manufactures linkages with educational and cultural sources from the Italian peninsula. This chapter examines the layers of meaning and interests of this cultural institution’s leadership in the sociocultural field. Consider it an archaeology of...

  11. 7. Locals in a Global Village
    (pp. 124-142)

    I was having a cup of espresso with my informant, Fortunate, in the house of the president of a paese social club whose members are primarily composed of immigrants from a small town in Reggio Calabria, the southernmost part of the Italian peninsula across the Straits of Messina from Sicily. An impressive painting of Fortunato’s home town, a shining city on the hills looking out over the Mediterranean, soon caught my eye amid the honorary plaques and family photographs. On the dining room table were labour union notices, newspaper clippings of Italian-Canadian social functions, and a tray of biscotti. We...

  12. 8. The Journey of the Saints and Madonnas
    (pp. 143-156)

    Immigrants from a mountainous area in the region of Lazio in central Italy have formed La Società Canneto to reconstruct a religious festival they used to celebrate in Lazio in honour of a representation of the Madonna. There are several nights and mornings of prayer and Masses, but the annual all-day festa in August at the religious retreat of Marylake, in King City north of Vaughan, is the most anticipated event.

    I arrived at the Marylake Monastery at around eight in the morning. Already, groups of devotees (men, women, and children) were gathering around the stone-arched entrance to the retreat...

  13. 9. Italianità for the Canadian-Born
    (pp. 157-173)

    The heavy bass of hip-hop and techno-dance music seeped through the partition in the Montecassino banquet hall. On one side of the barrier was a graduation dance of Chaminade high school. Its students, many of them of Italian heritage, were dressed in formal wear and were dancing and preening for each other. On the other side of the barrier a recognition dinner sponsored by Centre Scuola was honouring the Italian consul with a violin solo by a young Italian-Canadian student, and many were praising the consul for his efforts to bring the Italian language, arts, and culture to the Italian-Canadian...

  14. Afterword
    (pp. 174-176)

    Whether I was driving, flying, or travelling on a bus, a trolley, or a subway, this book has kept me on the move. The mileage covered, I hoped, led to places that Italian Canadians went to mingle and make sense of their lives.

    At first my agenda made for contrived meetings, and my questions ignored the obvious and could not uncover the more subtle contradictions and ambiguities of daily life. The anticipation of arrival at a place of encounter or a site of activity often made me a little anxious, and I rehearsed prepared questions and assessed agendas I needed...

  15. Appendix
    (pp. 177-180)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 181-186)
  17. Glossary
    (pp. 187-190)
  18. References
    (pp. 191-202)
  19. Index
    (pp. 203-209)