Religious Festive Practices in Boston's North End: Ephemeral Identities in an Italian American Community
In this lively and accessible book, Augusto Ferraiuolo examines the many religious festivals in the Italian American community of Boston’s North End. Using interviews, participant observation, and visual data, Ferraiuolo creates a vivid picture of how, over the course of a summer season, a number of religious festive practices are organized by multiple, overlapping, and, to some extent, competing voluntary organizations. The central argument that emerges is that the community uses these festivals, in part, to help maintain and establish a variety of identities, and that these identities are multistranded, complex, shifting, and negotiated—and thus ephemeral. In addition, Ferraiuolo shows in detail how individuals negotiate and construct identities as Italian Americans, Scaccianesi, Neapolitans, Catholics, and others, within the context of these celebrations. He also introduces a creative and original metaphor for understanding the ways in which selfhood is constructed, arguing that contemporary identities function as hypertext, in the manner of web-based technologies, linking to one another and building upon each other as constantly evolving “technologies of the self.”
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