“This is a book of great importance. Contours of White Ethnicity demonstrates a patient and very deep reflection on the past, present, and future of ethnicity in America. Its immediate subject—popular ethnography’s treatment of the Greek immigrant past in America—is quite precise, but its scope is wide.”
Artemis Leontis, Department of Modern Greek, University of Michigan
“Though it starts with a very specific study, questioning Greek identity from antiquity to today, the book’s scope becomes wider as it reflects on the past and present of ethnicity in America. The book investigates the assimilation process of Greek immigrants into American culture and explores the construction of ethnic history by revealing how and why white ethnics selectively retain, rework, or reject their pasts…. Contours of White Ethnicity is of particular interest to scholars in the humanities, ethnic studies, and social science who are researching ethnicity and race”
Journal of Folklore Research
“Anagnostou successfully analyzed Greek Americans to exemplify how this community dealt with issues of adaptation while attempting to keep true to its past.... The book can be used as a metaphor for gaining a greater understanding of other white ethnic groups.”
“Contours of White Ethnicity charts new directions for the study of white ethnicities in the United States. Although it draws from the scholarship on a specific ethnic group, the study exhibits a sophisticated, interdisciplinary methodology, which makes it of particular interest to scholars researching ethnicity and race in the United States and for those charting the directions of future research for white ethnicities.”
In Contours of White Ethnicity, Yiorgos Anagnostou explores the construction of ethnic history and reveals how and why white ethnics selectively retain, rework, or reject their pasts. Challenging the tendency to portray Americans of European background as a uniform cultural category, the author demonstrates how a generalized view of American white ethnics misses the specific identity issues of particular groups as well as their internal differences.
Interdisciplinary in scope, Contours of White Ethnicity uses the example of Greek America to illustrate how the immigrant past can be used to combat racism and be used to bring about solidarity between white ethnics and racial minorities. Illuminating the importance of the past in the construction of ethnic identities today, Anagnostou presents the politics of evoking the past to create community, affirm identity, and nourish reconnection with ancestral roots, then identifies the struggles to neutralize oppressive pasts.
Although it draws from the scholarship on a specific ethnic group, Contours of White Ethnicity exhibits a sophisticated, interdisciplinary methodology, which makes it of particular interest to scholars researching ethnicity and race in the United States and for those charting the directions of future research for white ethnicities.
Yiorgos Anagnostou is an associate professor of modern Greek and American ethnic studies at the Ohio State University. He has published widely on ethnicity and immigration in various scholarly disciplines, including ethnography, folklore, sociology, and diaspora and cultural studies. More info →
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The boys and men who left their Greek valley and mountain villages in the early 1900s for America came with amulets their mothers had made for them. Some were miniature sacks attached to a necklace; more often they were merely a square of fabric enclosing the values of their lives: a piece of a holy book or a sliver of the True Cross representing their belief in Greek Orthodoxy; a thyme leaf denoting their wild terrain; a blue bead to ward off the Evil Eye; and a pinch of Greek earth.
Just before the turn of the twentieth century, immigrants from eastern and southern Europe who had settled in mining regions of Minnesota formed a subculture that combined elements of Old World traditions and American culture. Their unique pluralistic version of Americanism was expressed in Fourth of July celebrations rooted in European carnival traditions that included rough games, cross-dressing, and rowdiness.
At midcentury, two distinct Polish immigrant groups—those Polish Americans who were descendants of economic immigrants from the turn of the twentieth century and the Polish political refugees who chose exile after World War II and the communist takeover in Poland—faced an uneasy challenge to reconcile their concepts of responsibility toward the homeland. The new arrivals did not consider themselves simply as immigrants, but rather as members of the special category of political refugees.
Historians have long argued that the Great War eradicated German culture from American soil. Degrees of Allegiance examines the experiences of German-Americans living in Missouri during the First World War, evaluating the personal relationships at the local level that shaped their lives and the way that they were affected by national war effort guidelines.