Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pittsburgh as Nation-State

I'm still stewing about Senator Casey's lack of knowledge about the Indian community in Pittsburgh. What is worse is that, as I far as I can tell, the local print media has overlooked the story. Was there any coverage of Casey's visit to Pittsburgh?

Returning to the theme of teasing out what is unique about Pittsburgh, I stumbled upon a blog post that argues Why Being From Pittsburgh is Like Being an Immigrant. The post author, Pittsburgh native Pat Stack (who now lives in the DC area), covers the usual suspects:

  1. Large and identifiable diaspora
  2. Distinctive culture (e.g. cuisine and language)
  3. Powerful connection with other natives when meeting beyond the pale
  4. Strong, but impractical desire to return

Plenty cities can lay claim to certain foods. Nostalgic musings between hometown expatriates are common. But thanks to Steelers Nation, no other city comes close when you consider the visibility of an urban diaspora. I'm curious if something similar develops among Saints fans scattered around the country thanks to Hurricane Katrina.

At the scale of individual states, Californication stands tall. Pennsylvania made a significant impact on the American cultural landscape. Texas enjoys considerable influence, partly thanks to the Bush dynasty. But I don't see another city that can measure up to Pittsburgh in terms of approximating the immigrant experience.

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