Italian American women, food and identity: Stories at the table

Mar 12, 2018 222

This book is about Italian American women, food, identity, and our stories at the table. This mother-daughter research team explores how Italian American working-class women from Syracuse, New York, use food as a symbol and vehicle which carries multiple meanings.

As the study centers on the intergenerational transmission of culture, the authors' relationship mirrors these questions as they contend with their similar and disparate experiences and relationships with Italian American identity and food. They also encourage readers to listen closely to the stories at their own tables to consider how recipes and food are a way for us to claim who we are, who we think we are, who we want to be, and who we are not.

Andrea L. Dottolo is Associate Professor of Psychology at Rhode Island College, USA, and a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, NY, USA. Carol A. Dottolo is a retired educator from the Liverpool Central School District, Liverpool, NY, USA. She specializes in reading and has extensive experience in teaching language and comprehension.

“This brilliantly researched and elegantly detailed new book by the mother-daughter team of Andrea and Carol Dottolo offers new insights into how psychology understands the individual in social contexts. Their study of the vital role of food in working-class Italian American families pushes the field of psychology beyond its academic and disciplinary boundaries. It does so by energizing the connection between psychology, identity, history, and community.” —Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, USA

“This rigorous, empirically-driven study of working class Italian American women offers a creative and innovative methodology for researchers of social identities. Dottolo and Dottolo refreshingly and self-consciously integrate psychology with interdisciplinary and intergenerational perspectives. Grounded in feminist theories and method, they reimagine collaboration in psychology, and further illustrate the significance of reflexivity.” —Oliva M. Espin, Professor Emerita, San Diego State University, USA

“Food, in Appadurai’s words, is a highly condensed social fact. This captivating and wise book illuminates a wide range of cultural symbolisms, rituals, and emotional resonances that food holds in Italian American communities. Food, the authors show, solidifies valued ethnic and personal identities, while serving as a means to negotiate gendered and generational relations of power. All in all, the Dottolos blaze a trail toward a treasure trove that psychologists have heretofore largely ignored.” —Jeanne Marecek, Wm. Kenan Professor of Psychology Emerita, Swarthmore College, USA

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