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A Great Conspiracy against Our RaceItalian Immigrant Newspapers and the Construction of Whiteness in the Early 20th Century$
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Peter G. Vellon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814788486

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814788486.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
A Great Conspiracy against Our Race

Peter G. Vellon

NYU Press

This introductory chapter illustrates the precarious racial position of southern Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Perceived by many Americans as a swarthy, inferior race, Italian immigrants thrust themselves into an American racial hierarchy that privileged white, northern and Western European races. Within this uneasy racial climate the immigrant newspapers, such as the mainstream publications owned by community leaders—the prominenti—functioned as an institution dedicated to defending the “race.” The Italian language press itself is surprisingly the subject of minimal study, despite the evidence of a relatively high literacy rate among the immigrants, as well as the prominent circulation of its immigrant newspapers.

Keywords:   Italian immigrants, nineteenth century, twentieth century, American racial hierarchy, immigrant newspapers, prominenti, Italian language press

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