Nation of Migrants/A Part and Apart

“Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration” by Adam Goodman begins by noting the pervasiveness of the “nation of immigrants” myth in the United States and then criticizing its eurocentricism. European immigrants, the paper argues, have always been depicted as the standard immigrant by which all others are measured or compared. Immigration historiography has neglected to proportionately explore the history of non-European immigration, and in many ways discounted African-American and Native-American histories altogether. However he notes that over the past two decades this has changed, with scholars greatly expanding their scope. He notes that this is “important in contemporary political terms,” which makes me wonder as to his own political convictions. He notes the growth of the term “migration” over “immigration” and that the field is growing more interdisciplinary.
He speaks a great deal about “de-centering.” First he discusses de-centering the nation-state and political borders. Then he suggests de-centering the northeast of the United States in terms of migration. He goes on to prove why “migration” is better than “immigration” some more by mentioning the huge numbers of migrants who returned to their countries of origin after some time in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and other countries. He concludes by saying different migrant groups act differently and historians must acknowledge this.
“A Part and Apart: Asian American and Immigration History” by Erika Lee discusses some of the biggest names in immigration history scholarship. She begins by bringing up the division of opinions between George Sanchez and Rudi Vecoli. Sanchez was of the opinion that racial discourse had its origins outside the field of immigration historiography and that there was a bifurcation between those who studied primarily European immigration and those who studied the racial politics surrounding immigrants of color. He suggested that the two be bridged and this division be ended. Vecoli took issue in this and suggested Sanchez was making a caricature of the field, a bold accusation if you ask me. Vecoli essentially advocated drawing more from past immigration scholarship while Sanchez suggested further incorporation of theoretical frameworks drawn from other fields. The paper goes on to extensively investigate the relationship between race, racial discrimination, and the Asian immigrant experience. It states that despite very diverse origins, Asian immigrants have often been lumped together into one large group, perceived as monolithic. She challenges the dichotomy of “remaining Asian” and “becoming American.” She seems to take a view of reconciliation regarding the debate within immigration historiography.

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