Seeking Common Ground: Multidisciplinary Studies of Immigrant Women in the United States

Seeking Common Ground: Multidisciplinary Studies of Immigrant Women in the United States

Seeking Common Ground: Multidisciplinary Studies of Immigrant Women in the United States

Seeking Common Ground: Multidisciplinary Studies of Immigrant Women in the United States

Synopsis

This book is the first interdisciplinary reader focusing on immigrant women in the United States. The volume begins with three chapters by a historian, a sociologist, and an anthropologist summarizing the way research on immigrant women has developed in the three disciplines. Parts II and III, focusing on "Immigrant Women of the Past" and "Immigrant Women Since 1920," provide empirical and interpretive essays on immigrant women from Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The chapters explore such themes as women in the migration process, the role of gender in the creation of American ethnic identities, and the comparability of today's immigrant women with those of the past.

Excerpt

The title for this book on immigrant women points toward both an interpretation of immigrant life and an agenda for scholarly study. Although immigrant men and women often view their lives in America through the lens of ethnic particularism--recalling, for example, neighborhoods and even entire lives peopled only by those of their own background--we know that the common ground of American life inevitably brought immigrants of many cultures into contact with each other and with the native-born. In workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, marketplaces, public institutions, and even homes and families, women of many backgrounds shared common experiences. Thus, while most of the chapters in this volume focus on the women of one particular background, the goal of the anthology is to raise questions for comparison and synthesis. Studies of German women immigrants in the 1870s may shed light on or raise questions about the lives of Cuban women in the 1980s.

Parallel to ethnic particularism in the study of immigration is the disciplinary particularism of the scholars studying women. It is surprising--and too little known, even among scholars--how many disciplines have developed specialized literatures on female immigrants. To a certain degree, cross-disciplinary communication on immigrant women is limited precisely because so many disciplines are interested in the topic. In scholarly terms, then, the topic of immigrant women itself could be a common ground on which scholars from many fields meet. A second goal of this volume is to encourage that interdisciplinary communication.

Obviously, both immigrants and scholars have had good reasons for ignoring the common ground they share with others. That they do so also reveals much that is significant about the subjective experience of . . .

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