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.
When the American Revolution was over, citizens of the new nation could not agree about the event's true meaning and the best way to preserve its authentic legacy. After the new federal government was established in the 1790s, these tensions invaded the national political arena and contributed to the formation of the first political parties that became known as Democratic-Republicans and Federalists. Those who supported George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Federalist Party saw the war simply as a battle for home rule. On the other hand, those who gravitated toward Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans interpreted the Revolution as a conflict not only about home rule but also about who should rule at home. For these American women and men, the principles of equality and natural rights were the Revolution's most important legacies. This chapter discusses the national politics of the new nation following the American Revolution, and examines the origins of the first political parties, the French Revolution and mass politicization, and inclusions and exclusions in the first political parties.
Two assumptions can be made about the American Revolution: it shaped the Atlantic world and was shaped by the Atlantic world. These Atlantic perspectives challenged accounts of it as a specifically American sequence of events, of defining relevance only to the history of United States. Conjuring states out of colonies was the single most radical act of the American Revolution: indeed, it was precisely what turned that sequence of events from a civil war into a revolution as it began the transformation of the Atlantic world into an arena hospitable, first, to independent states on its western shores, then to republicanism (in the sense of non-monarchical government), and finally to the creation of federal republics — the United States, Venezuela, and Mexico, for instance — on a scale undreamed of by classical and early modern thinkers. This article retraces the course of the Revolution from its beginnings in the aftermath of the Seven Years War and places its events into the context of Britain's Atlantic empire and the shifting fortunes of the other European empires of the Atlantic world.
Over the course of American history and economic development, market activity and the systems underlying and governing this activity have coevolved to address the changing fundamentals of human interactions within the marketplace and beyond. The growth of the American economy and its regulation are deeply intertwined. This chapter discusses these coevolutionary forces in the context of the development of American antitrust laws and the expanding reach of government regulation throughout American economic history. Antitrust and regulation are addressed together because they complement each other in their ability to address ex-ante incentives, primarily through regulation, and ex-post corrections and adjustments, primarily through antitrust suits and related legislative action, that may in turn result in new regulation. The chapter focuses on government regulation of industry in two arenas: price and entry regulation with market power (antitrust issues), and regulation of other market failures, especially environmental, health, occupational safety, and product quality regulation.
Accusations against Asian, particularly Chinese, “cheap labor” has been a persistent theme in the historical experience of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Asian Indian immigrant workers. Whereas they were indeed paid lower wages than white workers, they were by no means servile laborers. Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrant workers on both the U.S. mainland and in Hawaii actively organized unions and carried out strikes. In addition, Japanese immigrants in the early twentieth century were accused of being “invaders” who came to colonize and claim the American West for Japan’s expanding empire. Beginning in the 1950s, the socioeconomic status of Asian Americans gradually improved. Today the Asian American population shows a bimodal distribution, with a large cluster of well-paid and highly educated professionals and businesspeople at the higher end of the socioeconomic scale and another large concentration of low-wage workers at the lower end.
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.
The essay argues that despite the relative marginality of intellectual history as an acknowledged methodological approach in Asian American studies that such an approach has been an important feature of Asian American historical writing. This survey of various historical works in the field shows that intellectual history encompasses diverse ethnic, racial, gender, sexual, class, and national experiences. And it likewise points to a closer understanding of transnational developments, especially in anticolonial politics .
Gregory James Robinson
This essay focuses on historical developments regarding Asian Americans and the law, as well as the evolving narrative of that story. The legal history of Asian Americans is a complex tapestry that joins together many different strands of official action. Nevertheless, federal and state court rulings constitute the core of this history. The reason is evident: like other racialized groups denied full access to voting rights, the main avenue of recourse for Asian Americans in their struggle for equality was through the courts. Even as the legal status of Asian Americans has advanced over time, the scholarly literature covering it has mushroomed in dramatic fashion. Many newer works reflect the influence of overall trends in historiography, such as multigroup approaches or the inclusion of issues of gender and sexuality. Legal histories have reframed their subject within larger discussions of transnationalism and U.S. empire.
Daryl Joji Maeda
This article examines how scholars have conceptualized, periodized, and written about the Asian American movement. It argues that the Asian American movement provides partial support for a “long sixties” paradigm; although Asian American activism did not take particularly Asian American forms until 1968, the movement lasted well into the 1970s if not later. It categorizes recent publications on the movement into social movement theory–informed works, cultural histories, biographies and institutional histories, intersectional histories attuned to gender, comparative examinations that place the Asian American movement alongside movements by other people of color in the United States, and works that discuss the transnational aspects of the movement. It concludes that intersectional, comparative, and transnational perspectives provide the most innovative and promising approaches to movement scholarship.
Helen Jin Kim, Timothy Tseng, and David K. Yoo
This essay critically analyzes the emergence of the study of Asian American religions as a subfield, “betwixt and between” Asian American studies and American religions. It also reviews the history of the development of the subfield as well as the intellectual challenges and opportunities in the study of both Asian religions in the United States and Christian traditions in Asian America. Overall, this essay concludes that a more complex and comprehensive understanding of Asian American agency is at stake in the scholarship as it concerns Asian American religions in general and Asian American religious history in particular.
Gordon H. Chang
This essay reviews the historical literature on Asian exclusion in the United States. By tracing its historiographical trajectory, it shows how interpretations of Asian exclusion have changed over time. It pays especially close attention to recent scholarship, which has revisited Asian exclusion by way of new legal history, critical race theory, and colonial and cultural studies. Inspired by the transnational and cultural turn in historical studies, and a growing interest in writing imperial histories of migration, this reappraisal has considerably revised our understanding of Asian exclusion. This essay considers how this wide-ranging reassessment of Asian exclusion has located new places to look for the origins of immigration restriction and border controls; teased out the multiple and varied work Asian exclusion has performed in reproducing race, gender, sexuality, and nation in the United States; and identified in Asian exclusion an important technology of U.S. statecraft and imperial rule.