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.
In her evocative and meticulously researched book An Amulet of Greek Earth, author Helen Papanikolas explains and examines the vibrant culture these immigrants brought with them to the new world. The Romiosini culture, as it was called, provided the foundation for their new lives and was oftentimes the cause of strife as they passed on their beliefs and traditions to successive generations of Greek Americans.
In the tradition of her fictional accounts of Greek immigrant life, Helen Papanikolas unearths the cultural beliefs and passions that compelled the Greek-American community to make its own way into the broader culture of America. Based on extensive study, personal interviews, and a lifetime of experience, An Amulet of Greek Earth is a revealing and informative chronicle of the immigrant's experience in becoming an American
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.
Greeks in Michigan
Stavros K. Frangos Michigan State University Press, 2004 Library of Congress F575.G7F73 2004 | Dewey Decimal 977.4004893
The influence of Greek culture on Michigan began long before the first Greeks arrived. The American settlers of the Old Northwest Territory had definite notions of Greeks and Greek culture. America and its developing society and culture were to be the "New Athens," a locale where the resurgence in the values and ideals of classical Greece were to be reborn. Stavros K. Frangos describes how such preconceptions and the competing desires to retain heritage and to assimilate have shaped the Greek experience in Michigan. From the padrone system to the church communities, Greek institutions have both exploited and served Greek immigrants, and from scattered communities across the state to enclaves in Detroit, Greek immigrants have retained and celebrated Greek culture.
Rain in the Valley: A Novel
Helen Papanikolas Utah State University Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3566.A612R35 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Three generations of the Demas family face the ups and downs of the twentieth century after their fathers leave the coal mines that drew them from Greece to America, become wool growers and small businessmen, and Americanize their Demopoulos name. As the years pass, the family accumulates untidy lives and tragedies. Parents seek to keep their children tightly bound by old-country customs, to arrange marriages, and to foist their views of women’s inferiority on their daughters. Lia Papastamos in particular, child of a forced marriage between her Greek father and Amerikanidha mother, pulls away from the stifling burden of family tradition and interference, but she and her husband must contend with the decline that time, synthetics, and changing tastes bring to a once-thriving sheep business.
Helen Papanikolas has been honored frequently for her work in ethnic and labor history. Among her many publications are Toil and Rage in a New Land: The Greek Immigrants in Utah, Peoples of Utah (ed.), and her parents' own story of migration, Emily-George. With Small Bird, Tell Me, she joins a long and ancient tradition of Greek story-tellers whose art informs and enriches our lives.
The early twentieth century was marked by massive migration of southern Europeans to the United States. Transatlantic Subjects views this diaspora through the lens of Greek migrant life to reveal the emergence of transnational forms of subjectivity.
According to Ioanna Laliotou, cultural institutions and practices played an important role in the formation of migrant subjectivities. Reconstructing the cultural history of migration, her book points out the relationship between subjectivity formation and cultural practices and performances, such as publishing, reading, acting, storytelling, consuming, imitating, parading, and traveling. Transatlantic Subjects then locates the development of these practices within key sites and institutions of cultural formation, such as migrant and fraternal associations, educational institutions, state agencies and nongovernmental organizations, mental institutions, coffee shops, the church, steamship companies, banks, migration services, and chambers of commerce.
Ultimately, Laliotou explores the complex and situational entanglements of migrancy, cultural nationalism, and the politics of self. Reading against the grain of hegemonic narratives of cultural and migration histories, she reveals how migrancy produced distinctive forms of sociality during the first half of the twentieth century.