Documentary Project Prep

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Family ethnography through food

Specific story – my family food traditions and their significance to different family members

Larger engagement – the assimilation of Italian Americans. How White have we become, how committed are we to preserving our heritage?

Action to film:

  • making Easter pies
  • mom making Sunday sauce
  • me making Sunday sauce
  • interview with mom & dad separately
  • take stills of family photos to show when different people are referenced in interviews
  • if possible, interview Aunt Clair & Aunt Rita by phone

Interview Questions

  1. How long have you been making this dish?
  2. Who taught you to make it?
  3. Who made it when you were little?
  4. Why is this made on this particular holiday/day of the week?
  5. Why do you keep this tradition even though you no longer participate in Christianity?
  6. Is it important to you that I keep making this dish? Why?
  7. What do you know about the history of our family cooking this dish?
  8. Tell me about a memory you have of making or eating this before I was born.
  9. Was Italian spoken at home when you were growing up?
  10. Did any of your living relatives speak Italian?
  11. What was the attitude towards speaking Italian?
  12. What was the attitude towards being “American” vs. “Italian”? How did your family identify? How do you identify now?
  13. What are some non-food-related traditions or values that were observed at home? Which of these did you keep? Why do they matter?
  14. How important is your Italian heritage? How important is it to preserve and pass on that heritage?
  15. Is there anything you wish you had done/could do to preserve that heritage?
  16. Was Italian folk magic practiced in our family?
  17. What are some superstitions your family members held?
  18. Tell me more about the connection between living and dead family members. Share a story that you or someone else experienced feeling connected to a dead family member.
  19. Are there any traditions you chose to discard? Why?
  20. What is unique about Italian Americans? What defines us? Do you see us as a distinct group?

Finish watching Italian Americans series on PBS to get some broader context on the assimilation of Italians. May or may not make it into this project.

 

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