Week 1 – “A Part and Apart”, “Nation of Migrants”, and “Globalizing Migration Histories”.

Each of these readings brought something different to the table in terms of specifics, but managed to bring home some of the same big ideas. Throughout each of the readings, there was the very obvious idea of immigration being an ever changing thing. Whether that be the process, the definition, where the people are coming from and going to, the impacts, etc., it is something that is very fluid. The multi directionality and impacts of immigration allows experiences to build and strengthen the state where the people end up. I also thought that there seemed to be a general “othering” of non-European immigrants throughout the texts. The last main idea that I pulled out was something that related back to our first class, assimilation. No matter what people and governments may think, the experiences that people have before they get to their new home still matter and are what made them who they are.

In “A Part of Apart,” the author focused on Asian American immigrants. A big idea that I felt throughout this reading was that there was “othering” of immigrants that were non-European, specifically with Asian Americans. There were arguments about where immigration stood at that point and whether the experiences of non-European immigrants were different than that of European immigrants (which of course they were). The importance of other immigrant voices was emphasized as well as the thought of how to best continue learning about immigration: from the past or from theories? Overall, there was also a reminder that experiences as well as prejudice is something that shapes the experiences of immigrants, and it’s important to recognize that diversity! I found this to be the most valuable article to read because of its overarching theme as well as inclusion of more than just European immigrants.

In “Nation of Migrants,” the biggest thing that I learned was that each region, nation state, and country all have different draws and drawbacks during different times. It goes through the different regions in the U.S. and when immigrants were ending up there. It was also restated that European immigrants seemed to be the “prototypical” immigrants… Is this because of colonization? The imaginary idea of assimilation was also hinted-at, but the important thing to remember is that immigrants are who they are before they get there in combination with who they hope to become! There isn’t ever a complete erasure of who they were before.

In “Globalizing Migration Histories,” the author emphasized “newness” of the term transnationalism and its relationship with globalization. The interconnectedness of the two terms were emphasized with the comparison of the Italian and Canadian cases. The Italian Case, the first sort of study of its kind, it examined the paths of people that stemmed from one village and their paths across the land. It studied how people from Italy migrated into the rest of the continent and beyond. This single study became a much larger project and expanded beyond Italy and into the world as more researchers helped to track migration in their own regions of the world. The Canadian Case was slightly different because it happened over a much smaller area (from Canada to the U.S. rather than as broadly as the Italian Case). Despite the smaller scale, this migration of people was still important. The people that crossed the borders were looking for work and religious opportunities and when they left, culture and language followed. That flow happening across the border was essential to immigrants because there was familiarity and connections between where they came from and where they ended up.

These texts were valuable in discovering what immigration has looked like in different places but keeping in mind the similarities that stretch across it all.

3 thoughts on “Week 1 – “A Part and Apart”, “Nation of Migrants”, and “Globalizing Migration Histories”.

  1. I really like how you identified common concepts found throughout ALL of the texts. I kinda took the summarizing and big concepts one by one. You did a great job picking out those greater concepts and if I had to generalize all those into one, the multi-directionality, ever-changing, and including all groups, and motives for migration, it would be contemporary historiographical migration of individuals to truly understand our U.S. narrative on the world, or just greater-scale stage.
    “A Part and Apart” I recognized that the final conclusion was it doesn’t have to be an either, or situation anymore of which approach, European immigrant studies of the past, or the study of migrants of color to our country of past and present; immigration historians are now applying the interconnectedness of both! I felt like your take on the article did acknowledge the divide, but not its converging progress of the ethnic theories and spatial history.

  2. I also thought the theme of the ever-changing and constantly evolving nature of the study of immigration in these readings was interesting! I find it interesting to read about discourse between historians and seeing how the field has evolved, but I also found it a little hard to comprehend that in the past historians would not always consider racial and ethnic prejudice as part of the immigrant experience, since racism and xenophobia are rampant in America.

  3. I agree completely with your response to the readings from this week! I think that throughout these readings while different themes were brought up they all generally came to the same consensus that the state of immigration studies is always changing. Another point I noticed and found interesting was that the authors discussed some of the same scholars. I agree with your last sentence too and I think that throughout this course we will be able to look at the similarities across the field and really be able to understand them which I am excited for!

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