Race and Ethnicity in America: A Concise History

Race and Ethnicity in America: A Concise History

Race and Ethnicity in America: A Concise History

Race and Ethnicity in America: A Concise History

Synopsis

Featuring essays by leading historians, including Carol Berkin, Andrew Heinze, Earl Lewis, and Mai M. Ngai, Race and Ethnicity in America is a timely introduction to the interrelated themes of race, ethnicity, and immigration in American history and a first-stop resource for students and others exploring the historical roots of today's identity politics. Spanning from 1600 to 2000 and covering everything from the Trail of Tears to the Black Power movement, the book is comprehensive both chronologically and in terms of ethnic groups addressed: It examines not only the history of black-white relations in America, but also the experiences of Irish Catholics, Native Americans, Latinos, Jews, and many others. Topics covered include anti-Catholicism and nativism, slavery and abolitionism, Indian removal, assimilation and scientific racism, the National Origins Act, the civil rights movement, and contemporary debates over affirmative action and bilingualism.

Excerpt

“I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.” Historian Oscar Handlin's words convey some of the inspiration behind this book. To understand the development and complexity of contemporary American society, it is important to know the history of immigration, race, and ethnicity: voluntary and involuntary immigrants; different races, religions, and linguistic groups; conflicting nationalities; the development of a sense of ethnicity; initial interaction with Native Americans; the emergence of a dominant culture all shaped an American identity and society.

This book, then, seeks to explore that shaping, to get a sense of how the peopling of America took place. Written as a general history using race and ethnicity as its primary focus, this study is also intended as a research resource for students of this subject. It is divided into eight chronological chapters covering the following periods: 1600–1700, 1701–1788, 1789–1836, 1837–1877, 1878–1900, 1901–1929, 1930–1964, 1965–2000. Although any chronological division would present some problems with regard to overlap for some group histories, these dates were chosen with the intention of highlighting certain events and issues that are pertinent to an ethnic and racial history and avoiding repetition as much as possible. For example, 1965 marks the passage of a new immigration act that reversed earlier laws based on national-origins quotas; 1901–1929 covers the period of large-scale Eastern and Southern European migration, the main immigration restriction laws, southern African American migration north, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan; 1837–1877 is the time of substantial Irish and German migration, expansion into Mexican territory, Civil War and Reconstruction, and the removal of the Cherokees on their “Trail of Tears.”

Authors of the chapters were asked to write essays that would bring together the history of racial and ethnic groups and discuss the variety of experiences with migration, intergroup relations, nativism and racism, identity formation, etc., among a number of groups in different . . .

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