All American ethnic groups—Irish, Jews, Italians, Poles, blacks, and so on—have struggled in a rather schizophrenic way with their self-image or identity. Any group’s ethnic identity within American society is carved out of a delicate, tension-laced mixture of its origin in one or another nationality, while adjusting to the American realities it had to adopt. As members of American ethnic groups went about defining themselves within a pluralistic American society (since the 1840s, say), they were inevitably pulled backward through a past
left behind (linguistic, religious, marital, ideological) and forward through adjusting to American ways. This schizophrenic dialectic of ethnic group identity—between what we were and what we will become—is a fundamental component of the Americanization process.
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $29.95 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.