Tempest-tost: Race, Immigration, and the Dilemmas of Diversity

Tempest-tost: Race, Immigration, and the Dilemmas of Diversity

Tempest-tost: Race, Immigration, and the Dilemmas of Diversity

Tempest-tost: Race, Immigration, and the Dilemmas of Diversity

Synopsis

The issues of race, immigration, refugee policies and inter-ethnic conflict are daily copy in the world's media; so, too, is the growing resistance to the presence of newcomers. In this timely and engrossing collection of his recent writings, internationally recognized sociologist Peter Rose addresses each of these subjects. Concerned mainly with U.S. policies and practices, his assessments range from an examination of the post-1965 immigration of Asians and Latinos to the rhetoric of resentment and the shifting meanings of "multiculturalism" for white and non-white Americans today. The title essay, Tempest-Tost, is about the general plight of refugees. It sets the stage for the second, more narrowly focused section of the book: the making and implementing of U.S. refugee policy and the experiences of those who escaped from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos and who managed to resettle in the United States following the fall of Saigon. Here are informative meetings with United Nations officials and governmental representatives responsible for processing refugees; moving encounters with volunteers working for religious and secular relief agencies; and commentaries on many of those Rose met and observed in offices in Geneva, New York, Washington, and various west coast cities as well as in refugee centers and camps throughout southeast Asia. Included are interviews with caretakers, gatekeepers, guides and go-betweens, middle managers and directors of major refugee agencies, and some of those most affected by their forced migration, from a Lao family of simple tailors to Prince (now King) Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. Tempest-Tost ends with commentaries and critiques of a number of important books on minorities in America. Combining forty years as a social scientist, field researcher, and leading thinker on the problems of immigration, race, and ethnicity, with nearly as many years as an author, editor, and book reviewer, Peter Rose brings a unique set of prisms through which to assess the sociology of intergroup relations, the politics of rescue, and the writings of others on these subjects. His newest book illuminates the underlying issues that so stir the political waters.

Excerpt

For the past forty years the study of minority groups in America and their relations with one another and with those in the majority has been the main subject of my research, teaching, and writing. Late in the 1970s I began to explore a related field: international migration and, especially, the flight and resettlement of refugees. This newer involvement was manifest in a variety of activities: field research in government offices, refugee camps, resettlement centers, and inner-city neighborhoods in this country and abroad; the development of new courses at Smith College and a seminar at Harvard on immigration and refugee policy; a series of journal articles and commentaries and an edited volume, Working with Refugees, published in 1985. That small book summarized the proceedings of a symposium to which I had brought together a cross-section of those I had interviewed in various parts of the world. Included in that meeting, the first of several, were the former Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees at the un and several other international civil servants, U.S. diplomats and government officials, heads of voluntary agencies, case managers, resettlement officers, and foot soldiers engaged in rescue, relief, and resettlement, representatives of refugee communities, and several scholars who long had been engaged in the topic that, in a formal way, was still relatively new to me.

The fact is that my own personal involvement in the subject long predates my professional one. It goes back to two critical periods in my life: the first was nearly six decades ago when escapees from Nazidominated Germany began arriving at our door in Syracuse, New York. Alma and Max Einstein and Walter Leipzig lived with us a long time; so did Michael Weingott, evacuated from London after the Blitz. Many others came, too, though they stayed only long enough for my mother and father to help them find new homes. I grew up hearing stories of persecution, escape, long periods of anxious waiting, then hurried movement, often into the unknown. From my foster aunts and uncles-- and one foster brother--and from other refugees who were friends of my parents and, later, from teachers of mine, I came to have some understand-

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