Digital history & historiography

The media construction of Italian identity: A transatlantic, digital humanities analysis of italianità, ethnicity, and whiteness, 1880-1920

This article explores a novel way to understand the process of diasporic identity formation by comparing the discursive structure of Italian diasporic newspapers published in the United States with the baseline of public discourse in Italy. It uses as its evidence Italian language newspapers published in the United States from 1898 to 1920 (ChroniclItaly) and the Italian newspaper La Stampa published in Italy between 1867 and 1900. Applying a mixed-method approach of close and distant reading, the study examines how the ideological concept of Italian identity, linguistically represented by the anchor word italianità, “Italianness”, was constructed in these printed media at the turn of the twentieth century. The overarching aim is to explore how differences in the two identity constructions can be explained from their specific historical contexts: the process of ethnic integration and redefinition in the United States as opposed to the need to consolidate national unity in the face of emerging nations and nationalism within Europe.

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