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WWII and Identity in Italian-American Philadelphia

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Title: WWII and Identity in Italian-American Philadelphia
Author: Casias, Mariah
Advisor: Kitroeff, Alexander
Department: Haverford College Dept. of History
Department: CPGC: Student Research
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: This thesis examines the changing ethnic identity of the Italian-Americans of Philadelphia during the years leading into and during WWII. The hope of this study is to trace the evolution of the community's identity to see how Italian-Americans responded to the pressures of the war by strategically emphasizing aspects of their identity and by actively changing their group representation, especially through the press, cultural organizations and community leaders. Italian-Americans in Philadelphia entered the war with a dual identity that could simultaneously include loyalty to America along with loyalty to an Italian national identity. Individuals may have identified stronger nationally or culturally with one side, but the overall community identity was characterized by duality and hybridity that allowed for multiple variations of Italian-American identity. Yet irreconcilable conflict between the dual loyalties that Italian-American identity often incorporated did not happen until the U.S. entered the war against Italy in WWII. Through analysis of Philadelphia's Italian-Americans, it is clear that the war provoked the development of the identity of Italian-Americans in two different ways: it solidified their American national and political identity while limiting their Italian identity to cultural manifestations. It is this process that transformed the earlier dual Italian-American identity into a new cultural hybrid: an ethnic American identity that allowed for the realization of American identity without the loss of Italian cultural identity and helped move Italian-Americans into the mainstream of American society.
Subject: World War, 1939-1945 -- Italian Americans
Subject: Italian Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- Ethnic identity -- History -- 20th century
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Casias, Mariah. "WWII and Identity in Italian-American Philadelphia". 2010. Available electronically from

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