Imports, Diasporic Nationalism, and the Politics of Authenticity
This chapter examines how the fondness of New York City's Italian immigrants for imported foods helped make the food import business crucial to the project of diasporic Italian nationalism. It argues that the Italian state, especially the fascist regime after 1922, and its representatives in New York supported the business of importing food in order to expand the country's economic and political influence in the United States. The chapter first provides an overview of New York's food imports from Italy during the period 1890–1920, along with the food import crisis and the Italian Chamber of Commerce's “Buy Italian!” campaign of 1935–1936. It then considers how food frauds, imitations, and canned symbols sparked a feud between Italian food importers, on the one side, and domestic Italian food producers and grossieri, on the other. It also explains how supplying immigrants with “authentic” Italian food helped strengthen relations between Italy and America and created a tangible economic dimension that complemented ideological and emotional diasporic nationalism.
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