The book selected for the 2022 MGSA Vassiliki Karagiannaki Best Edited Book Prize is -
Redirecting Ethnic Singularity: Italian Americans and Greek Americans in Conversation,
edited by Yiorgos Anagnostou, Yiorgos D. Kalogeras and Theodora Patrona,
published by Fordham University Press in the Critical Studies in Italian America Series, 2021.
This important volume studies Greek Americans and Italian Americans not as singular ethnic groups but relationally and comparatively with attention to interactions and intersections. The authors are scholars whose work lies either in Modern Greek studies or in Italian American studies. Each author embraces the call to bring the two fields of study into conversation.
Reasons for studying the two groups comparatively are historical and methodological. Historically, Greeks and Italians follow parallel immigration paths beginning in the late 19th century down to their claims of a singular, white-American ethnicity in the post-civil rights era and their complicating those claims today. The articles in the book toggle between examples of the two groups' expressive culture to bring out convergences, divergences, and alternatives. Methodologically, the book addresses a gap in ethnic American studies, which tends to take a single group approach and to lump together white ethnics as a hegemonic group that does not merit attention. Greek American studies does not have an academic presence, and Italian American studies is an entity unto itself. The book pries open a new scholarly space for the two fields in dialogue.
To view these two groups comparatively is to bring out unexpected features of identity formation in the United States with respect to gender, sexuality, race, nationality, and class. Each article gives attention to some common aspect of the two groups’ encounters white colonial settler culture. The book forges new paths for challenging the paradigm of white ethnicity. With respect to Modern Greek Studies, the book presses for a transnational, transatlantic orientation that moves beyond singularity in the study of the Greek diaspora.
The committee appreciated that this book works hard to create something new by pushing people to think comparatively. The book takes risks and represents a lot of editorial labor in trying to chart a new direction of study. The authors have not spoken to each other or even done comparative work before, so this is really something fresh, even when it is not perfectly theorized. Comparison is hard to do. But the editors pushed for it, and all the authors make comparisons. The book shows a willingness to allow more than one authorial voice to come through, with the inclusion of a preface and epilogue by other authors.
-Artemis Leontis (Chair), Theodora Dragostinova, Dimitrios Theodossopoulos.
The winner will be formally announced and the co-editors congratulated at the Award Ceremony of the 27th MGSA Symposium, on Thursday, October 13th, 2022, to be held at York University, Toronto, Canada.
We hope to see you there! Congratulations to the winners as well as to all the entrants for their splendid volumes.
Vasiliki Karagiannaki (Βασιλική Καραγιαννάκη) was born on May 21, 1926 in Ptolemaida, Greece. The oldest of five children from a refugee family hailing from a small village near Prusa (modern day Bursa) in Asia Minor, Vasiliki loved learning and reading—a passion that she could foster only quietly, as she was forced to leave school to help raise her younger siblings while her parents earned a living through hard work on the farm. Vasiliki instilled in her daughter and granddaughter an insatiable love for learning and exploring, for beautiful diction and for beauty altogether. Her smile and spirit brightened up the world around her and made it kinder. The award named after her is meant to honor her memory, her generous spirit, and her love for learning. It ensures that she continues to do her part to make the world a better place, as she herself always wanted it.