Religion and Ethnic Identity Among Italians in Chicago — Anthony Mansueto –Abstract bio

Religion and Ethnic Identity Among Italians in Chicago


Religion and Ethnic Identity Among Italians in Chicago

Anthony Mansueto

This paper will explore the complex relationship between religion generally, and Catholicism in particular, and ethnic identity among Italian immigrants and their descendants in Chicago. Drawing on the oral history interviews conducted as part of the Italians in Chicago Project in 1980-1981, for which I served as the principal interviewer, and looking forward to a follow up study, I will explore the diverse meanings of Catholicism (popular and “high” traditions) and anticlericalism for Italian immigrants and their descendants. Specifically, I will argue that growing levels of identification with the institutional church (as opposed to local popular traditions) was one of the principal elements in the emergence of an Italian American identity among second generation Italians in Chicago during the post war years. This is by contrast with the immigrants themselves who tended to identify with the region, province, or even town from which they came and who were more likely to be anticlerical and/or to identify with popular religious traditions from their places of origin. Similarly, the decision of the Archdiocese of Chicago to de-emphasize ethnic parishes and use the Catholic schools as agents of assimilation was one of the principal factors in the decline of Italian American identity in later generations.  The paper will conclude by identifying research questions and methods for a follow up study which will look at the current situation of Italian American identity and the prospects for conservation, with particular emphasis on the religion question.



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About Dominic Candeloro

Dominic Candeloro, 1401 Cleveland Avenue LaGrange Park, IL 60526, 708-354-0952 Cell 847-951-910 2012-13-Adjunct Prof. Italian American History, Loyola University Chicago 1981-present—Part-time volunteer program co-ordinator and librarian Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia 2001-2006 Executive Director, American Italian Historical Association 2005-----Co Director of the Exhibit “The Dream...per non dementicare” Archivio Centrale dello Stato-Roma 1995-2003 Special Assistant to the Mayor of Chicago Heights Director, Conferences/Workshops & Weekend College, Governors State University Adjunct Professor of History 1977-1982 Visiting Assistant Professor - History, University of Illinois, Chicago.and Director of the "Italians in Chicago" Project, $300,000 NEH Grant (1979-1982). 1976-1977 Visiting Assistant Professor - History, University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign. Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign, History. Dissertation: ,Louis Freeland Post: Carpetbagger, Singletaxer, Progressive." J. Leonard Bates, Advisor. B.A. Northwestern University, 1982-1983 Fulbright Research Fellowship, Italy.

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