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.”
Eileen H. Tamura
Because of the small field of educational history, the relatively small population of Asian American youths who grew up before 1970, and the nature of education being part of a larger sociocultural phenomenon, publications on Asian American education history have been relatively few—when compared with European American, African American, and Latino education histories. This essay expands on the three factors mentioned above while discussing the extant literature on Asian American education history and suggesting areas for further inquiry. The essay examines not only formal education—K–12 schooling and higher education—but also nonformal and informal education. It further discusses the use and nonuse of theory, the intersection of Asian American education history with Asian education history, and the role of international relations in influencing the education of Asian American youths.
Global patterns of labor markets, trade, international relations, and war have contributed to the complicated heterogeneity of Asian American populations and history. Although often coded as “model minorities,” ethnic Asians are characterized by vast disparities in homeland, cultural and religious practices, migration trajectories, educational and professional attainment, degrees of integration, and transnational formations.
The notion of assimilation by immigrant groups remains beset by conceptual confusion. An examination of the way that assimilation developed in the American past, especially in the period after World War II, provides a way of cutting through the conceptual fog. Key features of historical assimilation are captured by the definition of the concept in neo-assimilation theory. However, debate over the present-day role of mainstream assimilation has been renewed by the advent of segmented assimilation. Both theories can point to evidence about the second generations issuing from contemporary immigrant groups to support their claims. A mixed picture is also found in the fundamental economic and demographic trends that are prognostic about assimilation.
The Atlantic Northeast emerged as a distinctive region between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries. Its largest tribal groupings were the Abenaki, Mi’kmaq, Penobscot, and other Wabanaki peoples; the Delaware and other Lenape peoples; and Mohegan, Mohican, Munsee, Narragansett, Pequot, and Wampanoag Indians. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these peoples struggled to survive in the face of depopulation from diseases, warfare, emigration, and other effects of European, particularly English, colonization. Thereafter, they and their communities persisted, despite further marginalization in non-Native law, society, and discourse in the United States and Canada. Since the end of the nineteenth century, Native peoples have begun to resist such marginalization through greater public visibility as celebrities and activists, by regaining some lands and rights, and by proclaiming their own perspectives on their history.
R. Stephen Warner
As argued by Will Herberg in the 1950s, religion remains a key to the incorporation of minority groups in America, notwithstanding—indeed, precisely because of—the fact that post-1965 immigrants to the United States have been overwhelmingly nonwhites of non-European origin. In contrast to the increasingly secular culture of Europe, the cultures of the Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and African countries of origin of most of today’s immigrants remain highly religious (with the exception of China). In the face of racial prejudice, Hindus from India; Muslims from South Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere; Protestants from Korea; and Catholics from Mexico are among the minorities who avail themselves of the constitutional rights and cultural status accorded to religious (more than to racial or ethnic) identities specifically in the United States to become accepted members of the community.
In 1939, an Ojibwe woman named Naynaabeak was involved in a conflict that shows some of the complexities that American Indians experienced throughout the history of settler colonialism in the United States. Her family did not live on a reservation, but they were Ojibwe people and tribal citizens and her home and fishing spot were historically Ojibwe places. The complex legal world defined by borders disrupted Naynaabeak’s ability to make a living, and her conflict was simply part of everyday existence for many Ojibwe women. This chapter considers the hurdles that Naynaabeak’s generation overcame in their determination to make a living, and how their efforts to remain on their lands, fishing grounds, forests, hills, and mountains—and especially their sacred places—enabled their descendants to maintain indigenous communities which still exist. The chapter reviews the literature about gender and labor in American Indian history to illuminate its major themes.
This chapter surveys scholarly writing about the intersection of religion and sport in the United States and Britain. It reviews the dominant historiography of works on religion and athletics, arguing that historians have focused primarily on clergy within Protestant traditions and the question of whether specific sports were considered licit or illicit in different places and times. This perspective occludes consideration of Catholic and other religions, the historical importance of bloodsport, and the informal nature of the interrelationship of religion and sport in daily life. The chapter also examines approaches to sport in scholarship from religious studies, highlighting the ways that scholars of religion have imagined sport as a form of religion (or “natural religion,” civil religion), often taking the perspective of the spectator and fan. The chapter concludes by exploring newer modes of analysis that explore the body as a site where religion and sport intersect.
In the late nineteenth century, as fears of contamination latched onto eugenic anxieties about racial degeneration, the medical regulation of foreigners attempting to enter the United States became particularly intense. Ideas about contagion and degeneration characterized the medical regulation of immigrants around the turn of the twentieth century, and many of these ideas remain with us today.
The rise of the American motion picture corresponds to the influx of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. Just as many of these immigrants initially settled in East Coast and Midwest cities, both movies and movie audiences emerged there as an urban phenomenon. Rather than view this phenomenon only in terms of the images that films of this era offered, this chapter proposes to move beyond a “reflection paradigm” of film history. Of course, film texts reflected immigrant, ethnic, and racial identities. But these identities also existed beyond the text, across movies and movie-going, and embedded within diffuse, multiple, and overlapping networks of imagined relationships. Using Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope, this chapter recounts some preliminary case studies involving race, ethnicity, and immigration to explore how future research in this area might probe the cultural practices of movie-going among diverse audiences during the first half of the twentieth century.
Racism and economics account for the first laws directed at Chinese and Japanese. Entering as “picture brides,” Japanese women evaded the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907-1908 between the United States and Japan, but by use of the naturalization qualifications in the 1920s, Congress effectively closed the door to Asian immigration. For southern and eastern Europeans, national-origin quotas of the same decade cut their immigration drastically. After 1945, Congress and U.S. presidents relaxed the tight restrictions, and, in 1965, Congress passed the Hart-Celler Act, which created a new and more liberal system that stressed family unification. Major issues in recent years have concerned terrorism and undocumented immigration. Throughout this period, the results of the laws were often unintended, largely because the flow of immediate family members and chain migration were unseen.
Intermarriage remains a uniquely revealing site for exploring questions about immigration and the creation of American cultures and racial hierarchies in the past and present. At every stage of U.S. History, practices of and policies regulating intermarriage have helped define belonging and distribute political and economic privileges. Although historians have sometimes interpreted persistent and lasting intermarriages between particular ethno-racial groups as a harbinger of more amiable ethno-racial relations and evidence of assimilation, they have also noted that such marriages can reinforce gender and racial inequalities. Scholars will continue to enhance the field by studying intermarriages that crossed and transcended national borders, defied the assumption of heterosexuality, and tested the salience of ethnicity among new immigrants from Latin America and Asia.
Joshua A. Fishman
This essay discusses the role of non-English languages in the United States and how they have been transformed. The rise and fall of the German language and the ascendancy of the Spanish language reveals the nuances of language retention among the country at large and among the foreign-stock population. Reactions to non-English speech have included the “English Only” and “English Official” movements, which oppose any extensive use of non-English languages. Also discussed are aspects of bilingualism in the United States.
Steven P. Erie and Vladimir Kogan
Throughout American history, political party organizations have served both as effective forces of political incorporation of newly arriving immigrants and as powerful barriers to fuller representation for minority groups. This chapter examines how urban political leaders and institutions have shaped the political emergence or suppression of ethnic groups from the Civil War era to the early twenty-first century. With particular focus on New York and Chicago, it critically reassesses the conventional paradigm of big-city party bosses as ethnic integrators fashioning and rewarding multiethnic “rainbow coalitions” and of political reformers as defenders of native-born Protestants.
This essay examines the rise and role of ethnically specific museums in the United States. It explores the relationship of those museums to the larger questions of how to display American history in museums, how these museums function to create either a national or ethnic identity, and how these museums blur the line between a presentation of “history” and a celebration of “heritage.”
Yen Le Espiritu
Panethnicity refers to the development of bridging organizations and the generalization of solidarity among subgroups that are racialized to be homogeneous by outsiders. This chapter argues that while the formation of a consolidated white identity in the United States is self-motivated and linked to white privilege, panethnicity for people of color is a product of racial categorization and bound up with power relations. As the influx of new immigrants transforms the demographic composition of existing groups such as Asian Americans and Latinos, group members face the challenge of bridging the class, ethnic, and generational chasms dividing the immigrants and the U.S.-born. In all, existing data confirm the plural and ambivalent nature of panethnicity: it is a highly contested terrain on which different groups merge and clash over terms of inclusion but also an effective site from which to forge alliances with other groups both within and across the U.S. borders.
Martha J. McNamara
In the two decades following the American Revolution, the art and architecture of the United States were hounded by questions about the role of art in a republican society. The problem facing aspiring artists and architects during those years was how to establish committed patronage for the arts. Not surprisingly, eighteenth-century art and architecture in Britain's North American colonies largely reflected English aesthetic trends. The consumer revolution not only encouraged the demand for portraiture, but also fueled a market in the British colonies for printed books, periodicals, and engravings. Architectural publications occupied a central place in this surge in the distribution of print. Aside from securing patronage, American designers struggled with provincialism in the early republic. Artists such as Charles Willson Peale and John Trumbull hoped to encourage the republic by educating its citizenry.
David R. Roediger
This article situates the growing literature on European immigration to the United States and white racial identity in the larger body of research on immigration history and in inspirations from literature and social theory. It places the new work, debates among those producing it, and critical responses to it within historiography and recent political debates. Differences over the utility of the idea that immigrants “became white” in the United States are especially emphasized, as are the ways that class, law, and gender intersect with race. Suggestions for further research are offered in conclusion.
Suzanne M. Sinke
This article discusses written communications by international migrants across time, from immigrant letters to instant messaging. Chronologically, it ranges from the nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century, and spatially, the focus is on the United States and those who migrated to or from the country. It covers the definition of an immigrant letter, particularly as it relates to systematic study of the genre, and some of the cultural associations bound to the term. It relates issues of literacy—who could write and how well—and the status of postal connections, how they influenced the production and distribution of correspondence by migrants. Other sections explore how scholars have used epistolary records by migrants as sources for various topics and in several disciplines, and types of analysis they use for both written and electronic communications, including e-mail. Finally, there are suggestions for further study of correspondence related to immigration.