In The Invention of Ethnicity in the United States, the author(s) explores the different theories of ethnicity and its effect on Immigration History and American culture. The author(s) first begin by stating that “The dominant interpretation both in American historiography and nationalist ideology had been one of rapid and easy assimilation.” Theories and assumptions by several generations of historians and social scientist were centered these notions of Anglo-conformity and the Melting Pot in America. However, historical evidence from the past two decades demonstrate the “determined resistance with which immigrants often opposed Americanization and their strenuous efforts at language and cultural maintenance.” There is evidence of those traditional cultures changing or rather adapting. The author(s) states that immigration historians are more interested in the process where these immigrants had ceased to be “foreigners” but did not become “One Hundred Per Cent Americans.” A happy medium where immigrants become ethnic Americans of some sort. The notion of ethnicity is a key concept of how this process came to be. To understand the process, the author(s) goes through all the different notions of ethnicity.  The author(s) begins with primordial ethnicity, which is the essential need for “belonging” by groups on shared ancestry and culture. A notion that more so influenced the third and fourth generations of these immigrants. The author(s) then get to “symbolic ethnicity, doomed to fade away before the irresistible forces of assimilation.” This notion of ethnicity just mobilizes “a certain population behind uses relation to its socioeconomic position in the larger society.” A more situational outlook on ethnicity. However, the author states that we do not view ethnicity like this but as a process that is grounded in socio-cultural traditions and memories in certain preexisting communities in America.  Ethnicity is constantly changing its meaning and adapting its form in society over time. Though from what I have read from this article, I conclude that ethnicity is a certain groups identity that is made up of traditions and historical memories.


George J. Sanchez’s Race, Nation, and Culture in Recent Immigration Studies explores the issues confronting Latino and Asian immigrants in the United States. Sanchez opens his article with 1990’s Californian sweatshop scandals with Thai and Latina female laborers. A common trend with these scandals were that these women were exploited, illegal immigrants, lived in horrible conditions and labored as indentured servants. The underlying point from the scandals Sanchez was making was that when they came out the workers were immediately sent to detention centers and treated as criminals. The author states that “…the media generated, not only got the women released, but it …was a result of United States immigration laws which treated them as the criminals in the situation…” Sanchez also makes the connection between the network of factories and labor agents with the migration of female laborers to America. A trend in Immigration history that demonstrate a type of migration pattern of these women to America. The author also notes two transformations that have led to a rethinking the role of immigrants in American society. The first he states is the 1965 Immigration Act and the second as the “emergence, growth, and maturity of scholarship focusing on African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans” that changed race and ethnicity to important concerns in “understanding justice and equality in American history.” The author uses the notion of “foreigness”, which means to radically separate Americans from each other to relate those things. The notion of “foreigness” is very much associated with Asian Americans. An example of this “foreigness” are the questions of loyalty of Japanese Americans that led them to internment camps during WWII. Another example are the many Asian immigration exclusion acts that barred these people form citizenship and ownership of property; which include the Chinese in 1882, South Asian Indians 1917, Japanese in 1924 and Filipinos in 1934. Though Mexico and Latin America were not put under the quota until 1965, they too faced the other harsh realities. After reading this article, I have come to the conclusion that diverse American identity over time was not very inclusive and had restricted the people migrating to it.

Categories: History 297

1 Comment

Moon · October 7, 2017 at 12:37 am

Good job!

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