The Tribal Basis of American Life: Racial, Religious, and Ethnic Groups in Conflict

By Murray Friedman; Nancy Isserman | Go to book overview

Foreword

From a variety of perspectives, the distinguished essayists in this volume address what are arguably the central social/cultural questions of our time: will the American experiment of creating a cohesive society out of an increasingly diverse population succeed or fail? Is the fabric of American society being riven beyond repair by demographic transformation; historic and contemporary racial/ethnic grievances and conflict; cultural separatism and identity politics; the kulturkampf over values, family and gender; and rising religious sectarianism or is the rhetoric of social disintegration a needlessly threatening conceptual language to describe processes of demographic, social and cultural change that have defined, reinvented and invigorated American life from the beginning? Are we shooting Niagara or terrifying ourselves with a Chimera of our own creation?

The Tribal Basis of American Life grew out of a 1994 conference supported by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts which was a joint project of the Myer and Rosaline Feinstein Center for American Jewish History at Temple University, the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies and the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The exploration of questions arising from ethnic, social, and religious tensions in American society has been a central activity of the American Jewish Committee for some

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