Sep 30, 2013

Identity and Culture, Fall 2013

Identity and Culture, Fall 2013

Aamir Addona, University of Connecticut
Kara Angeletti, Pennsylvania State University
Myles Bernstein, Roger Williams University
Christine Borland, Roger Williams University
Elizabeth Caltabiano, University of Melbourne
Rachel Connors, University of Connecticut
Cheylsea Federle, Roger Williams University
Taylor Fitzpatrick, University of Connecticut
Kailey Gaetano, University of Connecticut
Sadie Kilminster, Roger Williams University
Erin Larkin, University of Connecticut
Latisha Perry, Pennsylvania State University
Laurie Scoppetto, University of Connecticut
Olivia Tortora, Roger Williams University
Bailey Zukovich, Roger Williams University

Sep 28, 2013

Economic Crisis and Italian Casanovas

American Girl in Italy (Ruth Orkin 1951)
“As a result of the economic downturn, Italian men can no longer afford to have a mistress. The article explained that it is the role of the man to ‘woo’ a woman on a date but now many men can no longer afford that for just one woman, not to mention multiple. For the younger boys this is not so much of an issue because they can adapt and learn how to use their charm and looks to ‘woo’ women. Whereas, older men are struggling to afford the luxury of women. Hotel staff members have said there has been a noticeably less number of “hotel lunch breaks” and in Milan (the cheating capital of Italy) divorce rates have gone down 38% because divorce is just too expensive. This article was very interesting to me because it openly discussed infidelity as being something normal and made it seem acceptable. This differs greatly from America in that infidelity is very taboo and monogamy is highly regarded. I cannot imagine an article like this ever being printed in America. Furthermore, this article confirmed some of my stereotypes about Italian men in that they are romantic in the form of grand gestures and gifts. However, being a woman and reading this article I would be very untrusting of an Italian man as far as romantic relationships go. For Italian men that do not fall into the “Casanova” category this article really gives them a bad name” (Cheylsea Federle).
Italian Gianluca Mezzofiore (IBTimes UK foreign correspondent) reacted to the article: BBC's Tacky, Tired Take on Italy's Casanovas Ignores the Truth.
“Regurgitating a series of tired clichés about Italian Casanovas may seem an innocuous exercise to many British readers. But the flawed connection between it and the real impact of the economic crisis makes it not only silly, but enraging”, writes Mezzofiore, adding: “These cries of despair require and deserve serious insight, investigation, data, reports, interviews and a journalistic style that doesn't fall on clichés like the "Latin lover has had to rein in his appetite" or "Casanova has dispensed with the flowery niceties of wining and dining and is cutting far more quickly to the chase".This is the standard everyone expects from the BBC - not a jumble of hackneyed sentences wheeled out to convey a "humorous" vision of Italy.” 
Dany Mitzman (a British freelance journalist who has been based in the north Italian town of Bologna since 1998) disagrees too with the BBC light-hearted story: Lotharios no more: In defence of Italian men. “I admit that I am writing this from a personal perspective, having moved to Italy at the end of 1998 and met my partner in 1999. He is honest, faithful, considerate and not remotely sexist. In terms of the Italian male stereotype, he is very ‘un-Italian’. Some women worldwide may add that, in terms of the general male stereotype, he is very ‘un-male’". Mitzman adds: “So, if this country's men continue to have a reputation as Europe's most ardent seducers, I wonder if maybe it is because the language of Italy is still romantic and idealistic and - at least for some of its men - sincere? Italians use the word ‘corteggiare’, meaning ‘to court’, and the men still do it! My partner ‘courted’ me by leaving me little hand-written notes under my bicycle saddle and bringing me flowers every single time he came to see me. And I mean every single time. At a certain point, being a cynical Brit, I asked him to stop as my apartment was starting to look like a funeral parlour”.
None of the three articles offers any form of scientific support, or in-depth interpretation of the economic, social  and cultural phenomena. Anyhow, I believe BBC Emma Jane Kirby was able to point out an interesting theme that deserves our attention. The reader shall be patient and wait for the final research paper of a 20 years old student. At that point an accurate account that starts from personal experiences but is capable to transcend them – with some reliable scientific data and concepts, or (why not?) reading Giacomo Casanova’s biography and trying to interpret it with a social and psychological (and historical of course) perspective – will be available in the web.

Sep 13, 2013

Soccer and Racism in Italy

Last May Fiorentina fans hurled racist chants at Mario BalotelliIn an interview with CNN's Pedro Pinto, Mario says “racism makes me feel alone”.
Kevin-Prince Boateng decision to leave Milan for Schalke 04 was influenced by  racist incidents.
Here you can watch Boateng reaction to racist chants, all AC Milan players walked off the pitch and the game was suspended – a friendly match, not the Championship final, I shall notice.
The case was widely commented in the media, CNN's Amanda Davies interviewed Kevin-Prince Boateng on racism in footballLast week  in a small town near Bergamo Italian children have been withdrawn from a first-year elementary school class where they were outnumbered by non-Italian pupilsFurthermore, the first Italian black minister Cécile Kyenge was compared to an orangutan by a former government minister, likened to a prostitute by a deputy mayor; and had bananas thrown at her while making a speech.
According to Maaza Mengiste (The Guardian) Italy's racism is embedded, and the abuse of Minister Kyenge stems from the country's failure to face up to its past. These are some of the comments to the article…
WarwickC : “I don't think that Italians, as a nation, are any more or less racist than anyone else. But they don't have the same uptight politically-correct puritanism that you find in Northern nations like ours, which means they're less embarrassed to say what they think, where we tend to keep 'incorrect' thoughts to ourselves”.
External: “Do you mean that the Italians are honest while the British are hypocrites?”
Tania26:  “I genuinely disagree. I don't think our football fans, for example, desist from throwing bananas and making monkey noises because of "politically-correct uptight puritanism". I also don't think that our non-white politicians avoid racist abuse of the type faced by Kyenge because of the same. I just think that racist attitudes are far less acceptable in the UK. Look at Berlusconi's digs about Obama's nice suntan. I don't think Cameron would avoid saying such a thing purely because he's uptight but because he would see it as wrong. Ethnic minorities are far better integrated and successful in the UK than many other European countries and we have far less of an issue with the extreme right. Instead of dismissing that as merely Britons being bound by PC, we should celebrate how open minded and tolerant we are compared to places such as Italy”.
In 2008 Berlusconi called Obama  a "tanned" politician. He later defended the remark, calling it "a great compliment" and responding to a reporter's suggestion that the remark might be misunderstood, he accused his opponents of not having a sense of humour. ''God save us from imbeciles,'' he added.

Let’s end with Mario Ballottelli’s Top 10 Goals...

... and some other funny moments

Sep 9, 2013

Sad Italians? World Happiness Report places Italians in 45th place on the happiness scale.

Northern Europeans are world’s happiest people; Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain fall dramatically down rankings because of recent economic, social and cultural crisis: “They say sunshine is a key to happiness, but that theory seems to have been busted by this year's World Happiness Report, which places Italians in 45th place on the happiness scale, while people in chilly Scandinavia top the list” (The Local). United States are ate the 17th  place in the ranking.
Below the Happiness Top Ten...

1. Denmark
2. Norway
3. Switzerland
4. Netherlands
5. Sweden
6. Canada
7. Finland
8. Austria
9. Iceland
10. Australia

You can read the full 2013 World Happiness Report and check all the criteria they have adopted.   

Sep 4, 2013

What's Going On: One Day in the News

As we've discussed in class, Italy is not just wine, olive oil, art, romance etc. Let's see some other themes in the media today. First of all an interesting interpretation of the fact that around 1 p.m on any given day, three quarters of the population will normally be sitting down to lunch in their own homes: "Eating at home in the middle of the day is easier if you don't have to be at work and only 57 percent of working-aged people in Italy have a paid job, compared with an average of 66 percent for the 34 members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development" (Italy Stays Home For Lunch Hour As Weak Economy And Strong Culture Collide). Then what many Italians found after the traditional August, when the whole country switches off: "Chiara, a young woman in her mid-30s, is holidaying at the small bay of Palinuro, south of Salerno. It’s a quiet place. The sea is blue-green, but Chiara cannot enjoy it. She takes a big drag on her cigarette and tells her story. She works for a construction company, near Naples. Her wages have not been paid for six months, and now she’s afraid that she will come home from the beach and there won’t even be a job for her, that the company itself will have gone" (Welcome home to unemployment). And finally:  Italian politician compares black minister to prostitute 71 percent of Rome retailers 'dodge tax' .