Friday, January 27

Arrival: A Letter from the Editors

Welcome to the relaunch of Pummarola, an online journal of politics and culture that seeks to explore the cultural bonds, internal rifts and intersectionalities embedded within our Italian diaspora. With this new issue, our small collective assumes the editorship of Pummarola, fully aware that we have big shoes to fill.

We arrive grateful to the founders Ross Caputi and Samantha Pinto for their dedication to the journal. We are fully committed to advancing their vision and expanding the reach of Pummarola to new readers and diverse communities.

We have come together as a tight group, despite sometimes disparate lived experiences, opinions, motivations and priorities. We are united in our hope to produce a vibrant publication that will resonate both within and beyond the Italian American diaspora through articles, interviews, opinion pieces and creative work of all sorts, along with a collection of snippets that we call Breve. 

The founders described their vision and its source beautifully here, including the reason for the journal’s name. Pummarola, the Neapolitan word for tomato, seemed appropriate to represent the common, the essential and the perceived blending of old and new worlds in the adaptive cultural iterations within the diaspora. The goal of the publication is to explore the fullness and complexities of Italian American identities, perspectives, and lives.

As others before them, our Italian ancestors arrived on the American continents—and on other distant shores across the world—seeking a better life. What they actually found were contested economic, political and racial realities that challenged their expectations and in some cases held back the accomplishment of their goals. Our forebears struggled and succeeded in creating culturally supportive communities for themselves, which many of us hold dear in our hearts. But nonetheless, these also reflect the divisions of American society, and are part of broader patterns of assimilation and adaptation which others, including other European immigrant groups, have experienced. We, who have joined in making a commitment to Pummarola, arrive today in the midst of a global pandemic and the international reemergence of racist, fascist and violent ethnonationalism, which include both Italians and Italian Americans on the many sides of these divides.

Inspired by the promises of our heritage, our objective as editors of Pummarola is to carve out a space for progressive voices to help seed the creation of more egalitarian communities, within our diaspora and beyond. We reject stereotypes and regressive nostalgia for a romanticized world that never existed for most of our ancestors. And we dispute the prevalent monolithic view that Italian Americans predominantly hold right-wing or conservative views. 

We believe that to grasp today’s realities, however, we must also grapple with the past. The lens through which Italian Americans see the world is often colored by both the richness of the places from which our families hailed (whether or not we ever actually set foot in those places), and by repeated tales of the strife and economic necessity that usually drove their immigration. These are often tales of survival that do not count the cost of this new life in the diaspora, both in the U.S. and beyond. Survival meant becoming part of the white group, and this necessitated giving up a lot of what made us Italian, of a culture and the land of Italy—our language, our rituals, music, dances. It also gave us certain advantages in society and has bound us in complicity to replicating patterns of harm that our people faced in the old country, upon other people, and groups of people, here.

We believe that we, as Italian Americans, can do better. That our ancestors dreamt of a world for us to live in harmony with our human and more-than-human kin. 

Pummarola is an invitation to remember why our people came here, and help make that dream of a more beautiful, and liberated, world a reality for everyone.

Many 21st Century Italian Americans are trying not to forget.  Many think it’s important to remember that those who came before us had to bear great losses, while at the same time struggled mightily for respect, a place at the table and greater recognition by the larger American community. It was not given to us, as it never is to anyone, without much conflict, sacrifice, hard work and sometimes even blood. Many believe that the collective memory passed down to us should inform how we view the struggles against racism and other forms of oppression experienced by people still marginalized in the present day, struggles we should be greeting with understanding, respect and solidarity.

In this and future issues of Pummarola, it is our intention to draw from this deep wellspring of Italian diasporic histories and to do so as allies of those who are most vulnerable, exploited and oppressed. We are working in allyship and solidarity with  Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color as well as all people that are struggling for their rights, recognition, sovereignty and dignity. 

As part of this effort, we are committed to publishing material that can provide a better understanding of historical truths that have been falsified or ignored, as well as the legitimate need of others to achieve recognition for their own heritage. With this in mind, our editorial collective has taken the purposeful step of beginning this new chapter of Pummarola on October 11, 2021: Indigenous Peoples Day.

 As we begin this new and exciting journey, we hope that you will join us as readers, contributors, reviewers and important sounding boards.

 Thank you,

The Editorial Collective of Pummarola

1 Comment

  • Ms. Victoria Gillio

    Bravo.

    What a beautiful spirited and thought provoking initiative. And, there couldn’t be a time when this invitation to dialogue and reach across artificial lines to address today’s fractious and often revisionist societal leanings. How significant to reach back to some of the tortured paths of Italian immigrants to bring better understanding to contemporary immigrant struggles of other groups and historical understanding of indigenous and enslaved people’s.

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