Politics on parade : immigration, ethnicity and national identity in Chicago, IL
Author(s)Sengupta, Annis Whitlow
Immigration, ethnicity and national identity in Chicago, Illinois
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Lawrence J. Vale.
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Parades are many things. They are treasured annual traditions, community gatherings, expressions of identity and pride. Parades interrupt the daily flow of city life, rerouting traffic, crowding sidewalks and public transportation, and interrupting business activities. Parades are revealing. They are a stage for the performance of identities and interests that are otherwise invisible to the average city resident. Parades are deceptive. They present an image of unity and order that belies the messy and contested nature of collective identity formation. They appear to be emergent cultural practices, but they are more likely aggregate culture than to produce it. They embody stable relationships as much as they inspire spontaneous participation. Parades are public expressions of communities' identities, interests, and values. As such they are like distorted mirrors reflecting the hopes and fears of not just one community but many communities and ultimately of the larger society. This dissertation examines one type of parade - the American ethnic parade - to understand the shifting meaning of ethnicity and nationalism in Chicago, Illinois, from its origins in the nineteenth century to its present twenty-first century context. The question driving this research is how national identities can accommodate change and incorporate new members (such as immigrants and minorities). More specifically, it examines what ethnic parades in one American city can tell us about this process. An in-depth historical analysis uses the history of ethnic parades in Chicago to explore the shifting politics of immigrant incorporation from 1860 until 1990. Drawing on thirty-seven interviews conducted with parade organizers, local scholars, and city officials as well as observation of parades, parade planning meetings and other community events, analysis of Chicago's contemporary ethnic parades illuminates the myriad functions of ethnic during Chicago's transition to a global city. Specifically, it explores how expressions of hybridized nationalism in ethnic parades disguise a complex interplay among local political integration, economic advancement, and transnational political activism that is shaping Chicago's local ethnic communities.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2012.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.