20 de Marzo de 2018
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La Educación
Número: (114) I
Año: 1993

23. Stephen STERN and John Allan CICALA (Editors). Creative Ethnicity. Symbols and Strategies of Contemporary Ethnic Life. Logan, Utah: Utah University Press, 1991, 242 p., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Paper: $19.95.

The fourteen essays in this book by different authors explore how ethnic group members living in the United States adapt and modify their folklore in response to living in a pluralistic society. The editors’ idea for the book was generated by their dissatisfaction with prevailing academic models of ethnicity that stereotype ethnicity as abstract group processes or that view ethnicity as emerging in small networks of interaction. “For most ethnic Americans...ethnicity is more dynamic and personal, reflecting the richness and diversity of the ethnic experience.” Ethnic symbols bring real and ideal worlds more closely into alignment and are used by ethnic men and women to define their place and position in regard to their ethnic past and present. By emphasizing some traditions while downplaying others, and by combining various traditions, styles, and interpretations of ethnicity, ethnic men and women take greater control of their lives. The essays demonstrate that the creative flexibility in many forms of cultural expression suggests that ethnicity is a dynamic and evolving force in American life rather than a conservative grouping of old and outmoded ways. They show how stability and change exist in dynamic interplay. Choosing an ethnic expression, applying it to diverse situations, and transmitting it though time and space are based on decision-making and community interplay that require creativity and inspiration. The diversity of topics is exemplified by a few of the titles of the essays: “Weddings among Jews in the Post-World War-II American South,” “The Atlanta Child Murders: A Case Study of Folklore in the Black Community,” “Corridos and Canciones of Mica, Migra, and Coyotes: A Commentary on Undocumented Immigration,” “Iranian Immigrant Name Changes in Los Angeles,” “Strategies of Ethnic Adaptation: The Case of Gypsies in the United States,” “St. Lucia in Lindsborg, Kansas”, “Pasties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Foodways, Interethnic Relations, and Regionalism,” “I Gave Him a Cake: An Interpretation of Two Italian-American Weddings.” This is a scholarly work, but the variety and short length of essays makes it a perfect book to read on the bus, in airports, or at bedtime. The content is original and interesting. Most readers will find something about themselves and their families and will gain valuable insights into their world.