chapter  3
RACE, NATION, HYPHEN
Italian-Americans and American Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective
WithDONNA R. GABACCIA
Pages 16

An astute observer once noted, "It is possible to be an Italian in France, but it is not possible to be an Italian-Frenchman in the same way it is possible to be an Italian-American."1 Latin Americans, counting no Italo-Argentines among them, claim "Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish who think they are British."2 Descendants of Italians in Argentina maintain ties to relatives in Italy and support Italian cultural institutions, but their national identities are unitary, unmarked by ethnic modifiers. They thus offer a sharp contrast to the plural identities of Italian-Americans in the United States, where hyphens unite rather than divide ethnic and national identifications.3 So does Italy where regional identities flourish without hyphens but regionalism still sparks concern about national collapse. Still, Italo-Australians and Italo-Canadians also sport hyphens, pointing to shared themes in the histories of the English-speaking settler colonies of the British Empire.