by Stephen Fielding
Most people would agree that Italian Americans have a style all their own. Simone Cinotto's edited volume of fourteen essays puts this distinctive relationship with consumption into historical perspective. Making Italian America is not the first study of racial or ethnic consumption practices, but it stands out as an ambitious endeavour that extends the framework across four generations, multiple American cities and locales, transnational networks, and a variety of consumer goods, behaviours, and styles.
This feat is accomplished, in part, by the editor's decision to categorize the essays into three connected historical-thematic periods—namely, Shaping Identities through Commodities and Commercial Leisure (1910-1930), the Politics and Style of Italian American Consumerism (1930-1980), and Consuming Italian American identities in the Multicultural Age (1980-present). The articles themselves reveal a continuous, multi-generational Italian American response to the emerging culture of high consumption in American society.