Manifest Destinies: Americanizing Immigrants and Internationalizing Americans

Manifest Destinies: Americanizing Immigrants and Internationalizing Americans

Manifest Destinies: Americanizing Immigrants and Internationalizing Americans

Manifest Destinies: Americanizing Immigrants and Internationalizing Americans

Synopsis

At the turn of the century, America is both retrenching and expanding, becoming more restrictive and more expansive, more utilaritarian and, more value- and religion-oriented. As was true a century ago, these changes are very much a story of immigrants, their lives, and the changing lives of those they join. This book examines the interaction of immigrants and the native-born in nine widely varying locales, including Richmond, VA, St. Louis, West Palm Beach, FL, Tacoma, WA, Garden City, KS, Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco, and New York City. Through insight into the dynamics of these interactions at the local level, the authors collectively sketch an America that is both changing and re-creating its past.

Excerpt

In 1997 the two of us decided to organize what became an invited session at the annual meeting that year of the American Anthropological Association. We were united in this by our backgrounds, both of which mixed a disciplinary specialization in anthropology, an area focus on Asia (Cambodia for Carol, Japan and Vietnam for David), and direct involvement in the workings of the U.S. refugee program (David as a research and policy analyst for the federal government program and Carol as a program administrator in the voluntary agency sector). We thus brought to this project not only an appreciation of the experience of immigrants but a strong sense of the role of Americans as hosts to them.

The immigrant experience with America and the American experience with immigrants are not always happy ones. An appreciation of both positive and negative experiences among the host society (often artificially collapsed into generalities about public opinion), as well as among the immigrants (often artificially collapsed into stereotypes of immigrant success or lack thereof), suggested to us the value of looking simultaneously at both sets of people, specifically trying to include the hosts on more equal footing. Those hosts are sometimes active and positive as they sponsor refugees, seek out immigrant friends or coworkers, or (with some self- interest) hire new arrivals. Sometimes they are more neutral: they support the general right of refuge and the role of America as the land of opportunity, but have sharp reservations about the specific people to whom those rights and opportunities should be extended. Sometimes the hosts are negative--vociferously so when they feel that they are overburdened with . . .

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