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When ‘Military Wars’ end … then ‘Culture Wars’ begin

When ‘Military Wars’ end … then ‘Culture Wars’ begin

Tom Verso (July 17, 2013)
Photo by Vito Catalano

After their army won the military war, conquering southern Italy and administrating a crushing dehumanization to the peasant brigandage guerrillas, the Piedmontese then engaged the Culture War; proceeding to obliterate the languages, history and culture of Italy south of Rome. Again victorious; but not content with winning both the Southern Italy military and culture wars, the Northern Italians cultivated a mighty brigade of culture warriors in America, to insure no remnants of the Patria Meridionale language, history and culture survived in the southern-Italian American diaspora. Today, the American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS) acting through university “Italian Studies” programs, wages the Northern cultural war against the near 17 million Americans of southern Italian descent. As in Southern Italy, this Northern Culture Brigade is wildly successful. The only possible resistance could come from the Italian American Studies Association (IASA). However, not only is the IASA pathetically small with virtually no presences on American campuses, but it is also a victim of the Southern Culture slaughter. By limiting itself to post-Ellis Island history, it bows to and precludes any confrontation with the mighty AAIS Northern Culture Brigade. The annual AAIS Conference is a celebration of its successful, in Pino Aprile’s words, “…cultural lobotomy of the [southern-Italian American “Terroni”]…depriving them of their self-awareness and historical memory.” In recognition of their success, the President of Italy periodically, acting through his American culture warfront ‘General’, awards ‘Knighthood’ to especially effective Italian American northern-culture warriors.



How is it that near 17 million Americans of southern-Italian descent are systemically denied systemic studies of their mighty 3,000-year history and culture? Well … answering that question doesn’t require major sociological research. Just compare the respective membership numbers of the Italian American Studies Association (IASA) and the American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS). With three times as many members, the AAIS philo-Northern Italian history and culture profession reigns supreme in American academia; a virtual Northern Italian hegemonic army waging a Cultural War against any semblance of southern-Italian American history and culture. What little passes for southern-Italian American social history is largely IASA post-Ellis Island nostalgic anecdotes. What little passes for our cultural studies is IASA literary criticism of nostalgic fiction written by anyone with an Italian last name – especially if the author is old enough to remember “Little Italy”.
Chicken or Egg:        
No southern-Italian American college professors
No southern-Italian American college curriculum
Which comes first?
The Chicken?
If there are no teachers, how can there be curriculum?
If one wants a single statistic that implies the pathetic state of southern-Italian Americana post-secondary education, consider the membership list at the respective websites:
Italian American Studies Association (IASA) has 190 members
American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS) has 600 members
In other words: the AAIS has three times more members than the IASA.
The “plot thickens”…
If one wants a second statistic, consider:
82 of the 190 IASA members (43%) do NOT identify themselves as members of a college or university.
82 IASA members identified their ‘Affiliation’ as either “Independent”, “Unknown” or some other non-college category. 
In other words: only 108 IASA members identify themselves as being associated with a college or universitycompare that number with other ethnic/nationality teachers.
 (Interestingly, Donna Gabaccia in her keynote address to the 2012 IASA Conference noted the high number of presentations by “independents”)
The Egg?
If there is no curriculum how can there be teachers?
The dearth of Italian American post-secondary teachers necessarily leads to the absence of comprehensive robust in-depth southern Italian / southern-Italian American studies in the American university system.
There are a few minors in Italian American Studies and viturally no Majors (with a very few exceptions; e.g. Lehman College). However, none remotely teach the depth and breath of southern-Italian American history and culture reaching back fully 3,000-years. Rather, they limit themselves largely to post-Ellis Island history.
SUNY Stony Brook, for example, is frankly pathetic in terms of the ridiculously superficial study of the southern-Italian American people, who trace their history back to the vortex of ancient Mediterranean culture and the fountainhead of European culture. 
Stony Brook’s renowned Italian American Studies programs, offers 7, that’s right seven, undergraduate Italian American studies courses. Indeed, the whole Italian and Italian American course list at Stony Brook, consisting of seventeen courses. Moreover, there is not one specifically dedicated to or denoted with a south of Rome title (see:
But of course: Stony Brook has a Dante Project.
Certainly not a Giuseppe Pitre Project!
Why would the millions of Sicilian Americans what to read the folklore of Sicily? Surely Dante is more culturally relevant and more to their liking.
But of course: Stony Brook has The Center of Italian Studies promoted with the usual self-congratulatory comments and smiley face pictures. But what has this Center accomplished since its creation in 1985. The above seven course Minor in Italian American studies and a Major in the Tuscan Dialect (aka Italian), and Northern Italy history and culture. 
Certainly not southern Italian titled and designated courses.
But of course: Stony Brook has Foreign Studies in Rome.
Certainly not one in Naples or Palermo or the Southern environs, from which the vast majority of Italian Americans are descended.
Not to “Pick On” Stony Brook! Stony Brook is certainly not unique in the American university system.
In the New York Metro area (the virtual capital of southern-Italian Americana), Queens College offers an Italian American Studies Minor developed by the most well known and a virtual founder of Italian American Studies, but not one south of Rome designated course. At Queens, southern-Italian American history begins circa 1900. 
The Queens College program like all Italian American Studies programs and scholarship assumes:
The Ellis Island immigrants had no history…brought no culture with them. Rather, the study of southern-Italian American culture is nuanced; it’s to be gleaned from “Italian Signs on American Streets”. See: (
Queens College definitely has Italian (Tuscan) language Studies programs and  (but of course) three Renaissance courses. Also, foreign study is offered in Perugia, which the millions of New York area Italian Americans descended from north-central Italy, will appreciate (well at least it’s south of Florence).
The Social Science Division at Queens lists the following programs: Africana Studies, Irish Studies, Jewish Studies and Latino Studies. A social scientific study of the history and culture of near 17-million southern-Italian Americans … No Way Jose!
More from New York:
Check out Brooklyn College’s profound 4-course Minor in Italian American Studies.
And of course, for sure look into the southern-Italian American pedagogical void at the crème de la crème of Italian Studies – New York University (see articles in “related articles box for more comprehensive discussions of southern-Italian American education)
                                              Cultural Hegemony (Lobotomy)
I had no idea that I was a Southerner…Through Cultural lobotomy,
the South was deprived of its self-awareness; its MEMORY [history]”
Pino Aprile – “Terroni”
After military victories, teachers replace soldiers
After armies are defeated, the victorious society then proceeds to destroy the cultures of the defeated society by reeducating the populous. 
After, the Northern Italian armies defeated those of the “Two Sicilies”, they proceeded under the euphemisms of “Risorgimento” and “Italian Unification” to destroy the culture of the South, through the education system: starting with southern languages.
Sicilian poet Ignaziu Buttitta wrote a Sicilian language poem on the subject:
Lingua e dialettu / Language and Dialect:
Un populu / A people
diventa poviru e servu / becomes poor and slavish,
quannu ci arrobbanu ‘a lingua / when robbed of the tongue
addutata di patri / of his ancestors
 e persu pi sempri / for then he is forever lost.
 (“The Sicilians”, Joseph F. Privitera)
In the American university system today, the southern-Italian progeny of the “Two Sicilies” continue to be “robbed of their tongue” and cultural history. They are systematically submitted to “Cultural Lobectomies …depriving them of self-awareness, Memory” (i.e. History).
There are three options offered to students of southern-Italian descent:
- Comprehensive education to level of PhD in Northern Italian Studies (e.g. NYU)
- Minors in post-Ellis Island Italian American Studies (e.g. Stony Brook, Queens)
- By far the most widely available option:
complete ‘memory deprivation’ i.e. no southern-Italian American studies at all
Why are they smiling? 
Because the President of Italy instructed the American Culture Warfront’s commanding 'General' to 'Knight' a Northern Culture Warrior, in recognition of contributions to bringing another American campus into the Northern Italian Cultural Hegemoic fold.
Why are they smiling?
Because the share in the joy of Northern Culture Warriors' success in destroying southern-Italian American history and culture, and destroying any semblance of a counter-cultural force. What threat are the 108 IASA members, spread though out the American university system, themselves indoctrinated in Northern culture.
Why are they smiling?  
Because Northern Culture Warriors are wildly successful in overwhelming the near 17 million Americans of southern-Italian descent with Northern Italian culture.  Standing with the Northern Italy's American Front’s commanding 'General' with a letter from Rome, broad smiles are manifestations of the esprit de corps  shared with the conquering Northern Italian Hegemonic Cultural Army.
In sum
As the post-Risorgimento northern Italian hegemonist denied Pino Aprile and the people of Southern Italy their language, history and culture, the Northern Italian American hegemonist have succeed in destroying southern-Italian American “memory and culture”.
Northern Italian American hegemonist have rendered the southern-Italian American people culturally “poor and slavishly”, content to define their culture in terms of food: pride in more food shows on television, cookbooks published and restaurants than other ethnic groups.
Indeed, what other ethnic group can boast about something like New York City’s monstrous Italian food eatery: Etaly – which has been voluminously reported in print and video on the pages of New York’s primer on-line Italian American magazine – 

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.."southern" Italy,

.."southern" Italy, "northern" Italy..what's the difference... ? Besides, have you ever been in southern Italy? What's there to brag about ? "Mighty 3,000-year history and culture"...pleeeease!

"Southern" Question: a political tool to discount the South.

Southern Italy has a rich cultural and historical patrimony that has been reduced and trivialized by the conquering North. The South is in reality a colony of Northern Italy as the policies that governed colonization of Africa applied also to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In the last 152 years the Northern Italians have managed to suppress Southern Italian identity and reduced it to a "geographical expression" (a quote from Count Metternich used to describe Italy), a land of Brigands and demons and a backwards serfdom incapable of any political, cultural, literary, scientific or technological advances. A land where dialects that once were true languages with the rules of grammar and written in song, prose and dictionaries (ie. Neapolitan and Sicilian) have been reduced to comedy and song. Where now speaking the dialects is looked down upon as though the person speaking it were ignorant or uneducated. A people forced to flee en masse to the New World because of the costs imposed on their lands by the "Illustrious" Northern conquerers! Then those immigrants so misplaced and misguided were marked as "Mediterranean" or "Southern Italian" as though of another race and apart from their Northern counterparts coming through Ellis Island. Their andecedents ignorant of it all due to the shame "vergogna" it would place on them if they knew the truth of their prejudicial treatment when they arrived on the shores of the U.S. A populace that embraces modern Italy as their cultural motherland that cast their ancestors aside. All of this has permeated into the academics of Italian Studies and provided students a facade of the South created and disseminated by the North. When will it end?