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Old 08-14-2017, 08:12 PM
 
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This topic popped into my head in relation to my " Hunky " thread , so here it goes ...


I've noticed that Americans of Eastern European descent are pretty rarely portrayed in pop culture and they also aren't really a part of the American public consciousness . I mean ( for example ) pretty much every American knows of Irish and Italian Americans and could easily jot down cultural things associated with those groups . Yet many Americans are not aware of Slovak or Lithuanian Americans and would have trouble ( to say the least ) jotting down cultural things associated with them .


To go further American pop culture has very few depictions of Eastern European Americans . The Deer Hunter is just about the only film that revolves around characters of Eastern European descent , while one could come up with an entire list of films that revolve around Italian and/or Irish American characters .


My question is why is this so ? Is it because Eastern European Americans have had next to no involvement in easily exploitable movie topics such as organized crime ? Or is it because of other factors ? For instance do Eastern European Americans tend to identify less with their roots than their Irish American and Italian American counterparts ?


P.S. I'd prefer if this thread focused on non Jewish Eastern European Americans for two reasons :

1. Jewish Americans with roots in Eastern Europe tend to identify more as Jews as opposed to Eastern Europeans .
2. There are a good number of pop culture depictions of Jewish Americans from Eastern Europe .

I'm not trying to be Anti Jewish at all , I'm just trying to set this thread a bit on track before somebody brings up Woody Allen and such .
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:23 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
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well for one many eastern European countries are pretty small, and thus there were not that many immigrants, but I'm pretty sure many people know of Polish, Russian, or Ukrainian immigrants in the US. Actually there is a famous book, The Jungle that revolves around a Lithuanian immigrant, the book was published in 1906
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:37 PM
 
Location: Kent, UK/ Rhode Island, US
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They just assimilated, so didn't really create a culture around their ancestral home. Also they didn't exist in NYC or LA in large numbers so we're easy to forget.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grega94 View Post
well for one many eastern European countries are pretty small, and thus there were not that many immigrants, but I'm pretty sure many people know of Polish, Russian, or Ukrainian immigrants in the US. Actually there is a famous book, The Jungle that revolves around a Lithuanian immigrant, the book was published in 1906
Americans of Slavic descent make up 6% of the US population, over 18 million. The largest is over 9 million of Polish descent, which is the 8th largest ethnic group in the US. Polish history in the US goes as far back as Roanoke Colony in 1585, arriving with Sir Walter Raleigh. Polish General Casimir Pulaski was a US Revolutionary War hero, known as the father of the US cavalry, recruited by Benjamin Franklin, and who served alongside George Washington.

I agree that Eastern Europeans are rarely show up in pop culture as subjects, but definitely been part of its creation - for example Andy Warhol was the son of Ondrej Warhola and Julia Zavacká, who were originally from what is now Slovakia.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:27 PM
 
Location: South Beach and DT Raleigh
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According to my Ancestry.com results, I am 95% Eastern European. We do exist.
As for my ancestral family, they were all simple people that had really no power. They lived mainly in the Carpathian Mountains of Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine but also in a tiny town in Croatia. The only real culture that was maintained was religion and, perhaps, some culinary dishes served at Christmas and Easter.
These particular peoples of Europe were often conquered from both east and west and don't have a strong history of being powerful themselves over the most recent centuries. Most were behind the iron curtain up until the last few decades. Immigrants from these places often feared for their left-behind relatives' safety. They often laid low. This might have something to do with the culture being somewhat invisible in the USA outside of some notable enclaves of Slavic people in places like Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

Last edited by rnc2mbfl; 08-14-2017 at 09:53 PM..
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:38 PM
 
Location: The Pacific Northwest
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You should read My Ŕntonia. It's all about Bohemian (modern day Czech Republic) immigrants who settled in Nebraska in the 19th century. Historical fiction, but a fascinating book.
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:01 PM
 
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There are a fair number of Eastern Europeans in the Chicago area, and also in the Milwaukee area. I believe many have also settled in Michigan.
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:19 PM
 
Location: New Mexico
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There is a Greek presence in some places...remember My Big Fat Greek Wedding? My ancestors came from Pomerania along the Baltic coast of Poland now but formerly part of Germany and earlier Prussia. We are used to calling ourselves German ancestry but DNA says Eastern Europe and there is a little Kashube and Hungarian in the mix. They were German in culture and language and strong Lutherans but were a mix of German and Eastern European/Slavic roots. I also had a Ukrainian gr-grandfather who told people he was Bavarian, even when naturalized. My wife's gr-grandfather came from Bohemia, then part of Austria and changed his name from Vaclaf to William and was considered German. It might have been easier to just be absorbed into the German American community in many places than to hold out as a Czech or Hungarian or Ukrainian.
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:25 PM
 
Location: Nashville TN, Cincinnati, OH
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That is a very good question, I hardly ever met anybody of Eastern European ancestry in the South. Even when I lived in Boston I did not know too many, more Irish, Italians and Germans. I knew a few Russians and Polish but they did not seem to care much about their culture or celebrate it has much as the Irish or Italians.
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:17 PM
 
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I think the answer is pretty simple -- there just aren't enough of them. I've known tons of Irish-Americans, tons of Italian-Americans. How many people of Eastern European descent have I known? Excluding Jews, a bunch of Polish-Americans, and after that ... I can think of one guy of Czech descent, one guy of Lithuanian descent who I haven't seen for 20 years, one guy of Russian descent who I haven't seen for 10 years. And I've lived in New York and Chicago. There just aren't that many.
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