(John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at Queens College, City University of New York)
What are we to make of the continued expressions of Italian-American identity in the twenty-first century? The standard narrative is that Italian Americans have
faded to whiteness as a result of their dispersal from geographically-bounded neighborhoods, and their economic success, political power, and social integration. And yet expressions of Italian-American identity persist, not only as nostalgic memory culture but as emerging and dynamic forms that challenge the cultural politics of the white ethnic movement. These cultural practices—created virtually on blogs and social networking sites, and in situ as performance art and informal gatherings—are attuned to the possibilities of deterritorialized affiliations as they enter into a transnational dialogue of reinvented community. Folklorist Joseph Sciorra explores these new forms, many of them ironic, parodic, and self-reflective, as well as his own position as a scholar and culture worker engaged in these very practices.