It was interesting to read about discourse between historians in Erika Lee’s “A Part and Apart: Asian Americans and Immigration History” regarding how immigration should be studied. The work provides insight into the field, and how it is evolving, recognizing that past non-European immigrants and contemporary immigrants are affected both by having migrated and by having experienced racial prejudice. Lee explores how immigration history is an increasingly interdisciplinary field through the intersections of immigration history with Asian American studies, since Asian American migration has a long history that involves experiences of immigration and racial prejudice. Lee ultimately suggests that incorporating other fields is necessary to more closely study and understand immigrant experiences. Personally, I feel that making fields more interdisciplinary is beneficial to contribute to a greater, more complex understanding, and I find it difficult to comprehend a past in which historians did not incorporate other fields.
Adam Goodman’s “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration” makes a compelling argument for rejecting the perception of the United States as a nation of immigrants and studying migration rather than immigration, as migration is more inclusive, less political, and provides a more global perspective. I had never heard of studying migration instead of immigration, but it makes much more sense and supports a more nuanced study of the movement of people. Goodman is right, language matters very much, and ideally institutions will change the title of courses and organizations, but for that, I think it the change to migration and what it means needs to become more mainstream, because institutions need to be able to communicate effectively with their audiences. I assume it will need publicity and time. The perception of the United States as a nation of immigrants is pervasive in school, politics, and popular culture, and although I have often heard criticism of the term “melting pot,” I had not previously heard such a strong argument to not just broaden the stereotype, which excludes African Americans and Native Americans and reinforces American exceptionalism, but to completely change how immigration is studied, with different language, a more global perspective, and with more interdisciplinary studies.
In “Globalizing Migration Histories? Learning from Two Case Studies,” Bruno Ramirez argues that the term “globalization” should be used cautiously, case by case. He uses Italian migration and Canadian migration as examples, exploring how Italian migration had a global range and became a phenomenon, whereas Canadian migration was regional and did not capture attention from historians. Ramirez suggests that the term global requires scale and spatiality. However, I was a little confused. How does attention from historians fit into his definition or perception of globalizing migration? Ramirez writes that Canadian regional migration “could have become globalized from a historiographical sense” but did not because it “failed to attract the interest it deserves” (Ramirez 5) which seems to suggest that an element of globalization relies on the attention certain migrants receive.