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Beyond Cannery Row

Beyond Cannery Row: Sicilian Women, Immigration, and Community in Monterey, California, 1915-99

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Cannery Row
    Book Description:

    Presenting a nuanced story of women, migration, community, industry, and civic life at the turn of the twentieth century, Carol Lynn McKibben's Beyond Cannery Row analyzes the processes of migration and settlement of Sicilian fishers from three villages in Western Sicily to Monterey, California--and sometimes back again. _x000B_McKibben's analysis of gender and gender roles shows that it was the women in this community who had the insight, the power, and the purpose to respond and even prosper amid changing economic conditions. Vividly evoking the immigrants' everyday experiences through first-person accounts and detailed description, McKibben demonstrates that the cannery work done by Sicilian immigrant women was crucial in terms of the identity formation and community development. These changes allowed their families to survive the challenges of political conflicts over citizenship in World War II and intermarriage with outsiders throughout the migration experience. The women formed voluntary associations and celebrated festas that effectively linked them with each other and with their home villages in Sicily. Continuous migration created a strong sense of transnationalism among Sicilians in Monterey, which has enabled them to continue as a viable ethnic community today. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09190-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The preceding narrative of a Sicilian family migration to Monterey, California, in 1915 suggests a migration story similar to countless others in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America: induced by economics, negotiated within families, and usually characterized by itinerant factory labor. However, when Sicilians settled in Monterey they remembered that they were fishing people, not factory workers. They recalled and reinvented their identity in a powerful way that fused ethnicity with fishing, and with Monterey itself.

    The re-creation of Sicilian Americans’ identity was a deliberate process. Sicilians had to overcome many kinds of differences among themselves and challenges from outsiders in order...

  5. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  6. 1. Sicilian Women, Fishing Lives, and Migration Strategies
    (pp. 13-34)

    The chapter begins with an analysis of the demographics of the Sicilian migration over time to demonstrate that it was clearly a family and chain migration from the outset. Next, this chapter will explore the ways in which the Sicilian migration to Monterey conforms to new scholarly understandings of migrant fisherpeople generally, particularly with regard to the roles of women.

    Sicilian migrants to Monterey originated mainly from only thirty-five family groups. The oral histories indicated that they came to North America in three distinct waves, beginning around 1880. According to census records they did not settle in Monterey until 1915....

  7. 2. Work and Identity
    (pp. 35-56)

    The woman responsible for the preceding narrative, Mrs. Lucy Ventimiglia Gruwell, lives in Pacific Grove. She is ninety years old but looks and acts twenty years younger. She is tiny, full of wit and energy. She insists repeatedly that she “likes to keep [her] mind agile” and so keeps up with her son’s business, old and new friends, and hobbies. She not only recalled her early life in Monterey vividly, but also shared keepsakes, artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia that made her past, and that of her family and community, real for both of us.

    Mrs. Gruwell’s narrative is typical of...

  8. 3. Family, Conflict, Community
    (pp. 57-74)

    The preceding narratives from Peter Cutino and Vita Crivello Davi expressed the passion and power of Sicilian family and community life in Monterey. It was echoed by narrators who also described extremely close connections between individuals and couples that began in their childhoods. It was clear from the narratives that while women and men acted together to accomplish their goal of community building, Sicilian women actually did much more to shape their families into a clearly defined ethnic fishing community. They arranged social get-togethers, influenced choices of marriage partners, and even followed the same pattern of family dinner menus. They...

  9. 4. Good Americans
    (pp. 75-97)

    The desire to acquire citizenship on the part of new immigrants is a measure of the extent to which they express a sense of belonging to the body politic of their adopted state. As such, it is both a highly valued and highly controversial matter for immigrants, for their hosts, and for scholars of immigration. The issue of citizenship continues to divide scholars and policy makers.¹

    Not surprisingly, scholars interested in the issue of citizenship are from diverse fields of study. However, citizenship is gauged by political rather than economic or social behavior, and has attracted the special interest of...

  10. 5. Women on Parade: The Political Meaning of the Festa
    (pp. 98-117)

    Rosalie Ferrante’s vivid memory of the Santa RosaliaFestain the preceding narrative suggested just how compelling a celebration it was in the eyes of a young child. By the 1950s and 1960s, when Ms. Ferrante experienced her firstfestas, there was a widespread perception among Sicilians and non-Sicilians alike in Monterey that the Santa Rosalia parade andfestarepresented both the Sicilian community and something important about Monterey history and culture. It did not start out that way, however. The Santa RosaliaFestabegan as an effort on the part of Sicilian women to bring the Sicilian community together...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 118-126)

    Monterey, California, is a special place. It is richly diverse, both culturally and environmentally, offering scholars a unique opportunity to peer into a microcosm, to explore a complex process such as immigration in a remarkable but manageable milieu.

    Once the capital of Alta California, Monterey soon became less important politically, but its economic significance grew, primarily for its role in commercial fishing, which linked California to global markets. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Monterey attracted a host of immigrant fishing people looking for new resources. Chinese came looking for abalone, Russians hunted sea otters, while Portuguese hunted whales all before...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 127-138)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 139-152)
  14. Index
    (pp. 153-160)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 161-164)