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Are we witnessing the end of Greek American identity? Scholars from several disciplines as well as the public outside the academy pose the question. The inquiry comes my way often. As someone who writes about Greek America, I am likely seen as an authority on the subject. Is there a future for this cultural identification? Will it disappear from the US multicultural landscape? Does it matter?
Is the question a sign of premature pessimism? Some see it as out of place. After all, the vibrant presence of US Greek cultural events and practices such as film festivals, preservation societies, radio programs, documentaries, and blogs and social media sites, as well as the proliferation of study abroad travels to Greece for heritage students, create the appearance of a vibrant ethnic group.
In fact, the latest US Census registers a surprising development: a 20 percent increase in the Greek American population between 1980 and 2000, and a further 11 percent growth between 2000 and 2010. How does one explain this development given the low fertility rate of Greek Americans and low levels of immigration from Greece? Sociologists Charles and Peter Moskos propose intermarriage as the “most likely explanation,” with the “non-Greek” spouse being drawn to Greek ethnicity. Greek identity then is embraced by “non-Greeks” and individuals of mixed heritage. In interethnic marriages and among bicultural children, the Greek hyphen offers a desirable source of identification. In these situations, Greek is the dominant identity (1).
Read more, https://bridge.fairead.net/anagnostou-transformation
I have been following with interest the ways in which historians, folklorists, cultural studies and Italian American studies scholars engage with "Contours of White Ethnicity: Popular Ethnography and the Making of Usable Pasts in Greek America" (Ohio University Press, 2009) as a work that contributes to the redirection of American ethnic historiography, ethnic whiteness,
as well as popular culture and folklore studies.
Here is an indicative sample, by no means exhaustive:
David Roediger's, "The Racial Turn in Ethnic History." Journal of American Ethnic History, 2017.
Stefano Luconi's "Black dagoes? Italian immigrants’ racial status in the United States: an ecological view," Journal of Transatlantic Studies Volume 14, 2016 - Issue 2: Blurring Boundaries: Race and Transatlantic Identities in Culture and Society. pp. 188-199
Joseph Sciorra's "Reimagining white ethicity, a conversation," http://www.iitaly.org/magazine/focus/life-people/article/reimagining-white-ethnicity-conversation-joseph-sciorra
John Gennari's, Flavor and Soul: Italian America at Its African American Edge, The U of Chicago Press, 2017, p. 253.
Multiple entries on European Americans and Whiteness studies, in Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia, edited by Carlos E. Cortés. Sage, 2013.
Roundtable review of Contours of White Ethnicity, Italian American Review Vol. 3.(1): 2013.
Daniel S. Margolies's "Ethnographic and Folkoristic Study of Popular Culture," in A Companion to Popular Culture, edited by Gary Burns. Wiley Blackwell, 2016.
Given this interest that Contours has been generating outside Greek American studies, I cannot possibly not note the following silence: With the exception of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies no Greek American studies journal showed any interest in reviewing Contours. The book was ignored. Taking note of this historical omission. Just for the record.