“A Part and Apart”, “Nation of Migrants”, and “Globalizing Migration Histories?”

“A Part and Apart” by Erika Lee highlighted vital topics regarding current and historical Asian immigration into the Americas. Lee, being an Asian Americanist herself, provided both personal insight and objective theoretical proposals from respected scholars. She initially introduced a disagreement between George Sanchez and Rudi Vecoli. Sanchez insisted both the cultures and experiences of racially diverse immigrants, including Latinx individuals, Asians, and African Americans vastly differed from those of European Americans who predominantly desired to identify as white. On the other hand, Veloci believed that all immigrants endured the same conditions, treatment, and forceful cultural adaption. Lee’s objective in including such opposing views was to explain the division among scholars over within the field during the 1990’s.  She further went on to detail the disconnect between immigration history and ethnic studies. Lee also explored a variety of types of migration, including transnational, circular, undocumented, and returning; these concepts emerged as Asians were transported as indentured servants or slaves to the Americas, traveled as students, laborers, refugees, and more. Focusing more narrowly on post World War 2 America, Lee details how Asian immigrants’ roles in America clearly shifts based on the beginning of the Cold War that brought on new alliances and severed old ones. When World War 2 began, Japanese Americans were labeled as “bad Asians” and placed in internment camps, whereas as Asians from other countries such as China were labeled as “good” and seen as more American. This tied into Lee’s explanation of Asian’s newly developed ethnic identity in relation to systematic discrimination. Even though Asians were eventually hailed as the perfect American minority nuclear family, their over glorified traits such as submissive behavior and willingness to work tirelessly did not allow for cultural diversity. In summation, Lee exposed the truth, being that Asian immigrant’s status and worth was based upon the whim of the natural born Americans. As Lee concludes the article, she emphasizes that many of the divides among immigration history and ethnic studies have begun to dissipate due to the importance of the current Asian immigrant’s experience as Asian Americans in relation to the historical perspective. 

            “Nation of Migrants” by Adam Goodman focuses on the importance of all American immigrants in a historical context regarding the United States. Goodman expands on similar topics that Lee spoke on, again referencing the clashing ideals of Vecoli, who widely considered the experience of a European immigrant to be universal, and Sanchez who insisted that the process must vary depending on the ethnicity of the immigrant. He further highlighted that the “nation of immigrants paradigm” was created to intentionally exclude the histories of African American and Native American individuals. If altered and embraced as the nation of migrants, the diversity of all immigrants, not only Europeans, would be recognized. Goodman emphasizes that, as the years have passed, many articles on scholarly databases such as JSTOR are more in refence to migrants than immigrants, which is a positive change from his perspective. While this is so, many jobs and institutions referencing the history of the field remain in relation to immigration history, not migration. Even the Immigration and Ethnic History Society has yet to take the initiative to change their name and include all minorities. Similar to Lee, Godman also highlights that while immigration itself and assimilation are key in the history of immigrants, factors such as discrimination, exclusion, and internment also influence their ethnic identity. Goodman goes on to encourage the embrace of migration as opposed to immigration by stating that such issues would not be as politically charged if historians focused on the overall concept of migration. Lastly, whereas Lee explains the Push and Pull ideal, Goodman discourages belief in this theoretical framework, because it does not take into consideration the agency and irrational behavior of a human being, immigrants included of course. Goodman’s objective in writing this article is to explain the damaging effects of the nation of immigrants paradigm and to encourage the study of migration instead.  

“Globalizing Migration Histories?” by Bruno Ramirez focuses on the geographic and historic importance of immigration on a global scale, rather than the narrow history of an individual nation. He emphasizes the connections between the impact of certain immigrant groups in foreign countries and their origin countries. He begins by explaining the relevance of the “historiographical process,” also referenced above, referring to the relation between the mobility of immigrants from a specific country and holistic global history.  Then, similar to Erika Lee, he explores the concept of transnational immigration and its place within history regarding the various cultures and ethnic identities imported by immigrants from one country to the next, and how this impacted the fabric of the country itself going forward. The main section of this article highlights the Italian Case and the Canadian Case, both of which focus on the results of transnational immigration from those two origin countries across the globe. When speaking of Italy, Ramierz provides examples of where and when Italian immigrants have made a large impact through cases of diaspora. He includes the studies of Donna Gabaccia who further delves into the specific effect of Italian immigration, focusing more so on the history rather than the geographical connotation. Secondly, Ramirez details the migration of Canadian immigrants to America, or more specifically the New England area, and how this transaction between the two countries is rarely recognized within either’s histories as relevant. He discusses studies that have proven Canadian chose to settle in or return to similar states in America based upon their original location along the border in Canada. He then emphasizes that this historiographical process only extends to Canada and America and is more regional rather than global. Ramirez’s objective by writing this article is the emphasize the overall importance of immigrants traveling from one country to the next due to the various connections they create along the way.

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