Joe W. Trotter
This essay explores several overlapping waves of black population movement from the African background through the early twenty-first century. It shows how enslaved people dominated the first two great migrations—from Africa to the tobacco-producing colonies of British North America and later from the Upper South to the cotton-producing lands of the Deep South. In the wake of the Civil War and the emancipation of some 4 million enslaved people, the great farm-to-city migration gradually transformed African Americans from a predominantly rural southern people into the most urbanized sector of the nation’s population. While massive black population movements resulted in substantial disruption of established patterns of cultural, institutional, and political life, African Americans built and rebuilt forms of community under the impact of new conditions, including the rise of a new wave of voluntary black migration from Africa and elsewhere by the close of the 20th century.
Gary B. Nash
The American Revolution played an important role in African Americans' quest for freedom. It marked the first mass rebellion by slaves in American history, gave rise to the first civil rights movement, and resulted in the first large-scale constructions of free black life. African slaves in North America knew that their natural rights were violated by their enslavement, although a confluence of events heightened their restiveness and provided them with the ideology-laden phrases that they could deploy in their struggle to secure their liberty whenever and wherever possible. The Revolution offered slaves a chance to realize this dream. African American revolutionaries saw the war as a way to quench their thirst for freedom, to end corrupt power, and to die for their natural rights.
Between 1763 and 1821, few Native peoples in North America remained untouched by the twin forces of imperial expansion and colonial population growth. Communities in once-remote California and Alaska struggled to adjust to the incursion of missionaries, traders, and soldiers into their lands. Along the Atlantic seaboard, Indians fought to avoid being swallowed up altogether by the United States. Depending on the regional context, indigenous experiences diverged widely. Some Native peoples profited enormously from the arrival of Europeans in their homeland, others underwent a period of painful readjustment and reinvention, and still others struggled merely to keep their communities and families intact. Geography, demography, epidemiology, and the contingencies of Native and imperial politics all shaped the course of Native American history during this tumultuous period.
Rosita Kaaháni Worl
This chapter offers an overview of the experiences of the four major cultural groups within the borders of modern Alaska: Eskimos (Yup’ik, Inupiat), Aleuts, Athabaskans, and the Haida and Tlingit Indians. After describing the nature of precontact Alaskan cultures, the chapter describes the era of Russian rule (dominated by the trade in sea otters, the violent subjugation of the Aleuts, and the advent of Russian Orthodox missionaries), the American purchase and its aftermath, the Second World War, and the tumultuous events accompanying the admission of Alaska to statehood in 1958. Throughout their encounter with outsiders, the indigenous peoples of Alaska have struggled with the introduction of new diseases, assaults on their subsistence traditions, and struggles over land ownership. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (1971) has ushered in a new period of improvement even though the state’s Native people continue to struggle with the ongoing effects of colonialism.
Following a discussion of what some scholars have seen as “divided loyalties” among immigrants, this article surveys the history of the ethnic influence on U.S. foreign policy from the 1790s to the present. Specific topics include Irish American nationalism and its relationship to republicanism and anti-imperialism in the nineteenth century, the diverse aims of ethnic activism in the era of World War I, the alleged role of ethnic activism in shaping the isolationism that partly characterized U.S. foreign policy between the wars, and the role of U.S.-based diasporas and ethnic lobbies in the era of the Cold War and after. Attention is given to Irish Americans, Jewish Americans, Cuban Americans, African Americans, Eastern Europeans, and others. The article closes with a discussion of the potential impact of the recent phenomenon of dual citizenship.
Cameron B. Wesson
This chapter examines the nature of Native American societies immediately prior to the advent of sustained contacts with Europeans in the late fifteenth century. Touching on the broad issues of social organization, politics, trade, religion, and identity, the chapter provides a general framework for understanding the uniqueness of indigenous Native American cultures. The precontact Native cultures of North America were far more diverse and complex than any of the theories archaeologists have previously devised to understand them. In addition to the knowledge gained from ever new archaeological investigations of precontact sites in North America, there is ample evidence that an emphasis on scholarly engagement with descendant communities holds the potential to reveal even more about pre- and postcontact Native American experiences.
D. W. Ellwood
The First World War cost Europe the leadership of the world. But the United States of Woodrow Wilson was not ready to take its place. The 1920s brought Europe to a crossroads where mass democracy, mass production, and mass communications—the latter two dominated by American innovations— transformed ideas of sovereignty, modernity, and identity everywhere. The financial crash of 1929 destroyed illusions about the United States as the land of the future, and helped legitimize the totalitarians. European democrats looked to the 1930s New Deal as their last best hope. During the Second World War Roosevelt rebuilt the global order, with the United Nations and other new institutions. But the United States was now looking to ‘retire’ Europe from the world scene, and build a new universe based on America’s experience of the link between mass prosperity and democratic stability.
Through their successfully waged war and also by their novel political strategies, eighteenth-century North Americans seeking home rule made history. By systematically organizing around a refusal of British goods and developing a new national taste, they politicized the everyday. Twenty years later, this politicization was reprised in the French Revolution. Whereas the new American aesthetic was defined by sobriety and domestic production, the forms generated in the French Revolutionary decade combined the symbols of Republicanism with styles connoting non-aristocratic values. The likeness and difference of the role of culture, domesticity, and gender in the American and French revolutions are represented in their iconic forms—homespun for the United States and the dress of the sans-culottes for France. Both revolutions were characterized by a consistent investment in material culture and everyday life, and gave rise to new political cultures. This reformulation is best conceptualized using the term “cultural revolution.”
Contemporary scholars are shaping the field of indigenous popular cultural studies through multiple critical approaches and explorations of new areas of analysis. This scholarship seeks to emphasize narratives of Native agency, negotiation, contestation, and reconfiguration in interdisciplinary sites of cultural production, representation, and reception. These efforts have opened a space for critical dialogue about the formations of topics in American Indian popular culture studies that transcend mere description and surface analysis. The goal of this new approach is to place American Indians at the center of the complex politics of pop culture. This chapter provides an overview of scholarly approaches to pop cultural representations of American Indians. It examines critical issues in the field while surveying recent scholarship on the production, representation, and reception of American Indians in television, film, music, and other expressive mass media. The chapter concludes with a look at future scholarship on American Indian representations.
This chapter explains the role of American Indians in world history by exploring the concept of a mutual encounter in the Americas in the first centuries following the Columbus voyages. The chapter quickly shifts to an examination of narrative constructions of North American history, in particular focusing on the relationship between American Indians, Atlantic World empires, and their settler colonies. This examination centers on an analysis of American Indian history and world history in the context of evolving social worlds that formed after contact. That context delineates an Atlantic New World of empires, colonies, trade, and alliance, and an indigenous New World in the interior of the continent, where autonomous Native peoples and homelands experience radical change as they incorporate new peoples, things, and ideas into their lives.