“20 Years of Irish-American History” and “No Lamps Were Lit for Them” (Reading Blog #17)

“Twenty Years of Irish-American History” by Kevin Kenny tries to examine Kerby Miller’s Emigrants and Exiles, which is regarded as the most influential work about Irish-American history. In the first part of the essay,  he looks at Miller’s argument that Irish rural culture was communal, static, dependent, and fatalistic. He also looks at Donald Akenson,  who states that the Irish had easier time thriving in Commonwealth nations (Australia, New Zealand, and Canada) than in the United States. In the second part of the essay, Kenny covers the criticism that Miller faced. One criticism that stood out to me was the fact that some, like Timothy Guinnane, found Miller’s Irish rural history too pessimistic, saying that it is “gloom and doom”. While I do agree that the life of Irish immigrants in America was indeed bad and terrible, I believe that at this point in time (around the mid-late 1800s) Irish people were better off somewhere else. In this part,  he also looks at several works that deal with the history of Irish immigrant women,  looking at both Miller’s and Guinnane’s view. To conclude his essay, Kenny states that the new methods used to approach history will have considerable merits for the study of ethnic nationalism and that works like Thomas N. Brown’s Irish-American Nationalism and even Emigrants and Exiles play a huge role in furthering the field.

“No Lamps Were Lit for Them”, an essay by Roger Daniels, covers the history of Angel Island, the main immigration station on the Pacific coast between 1910 and 1940. In the first part of the essay, Daniels covers the early history of the island when it was established as Fort McDowell. After the Civil War, the island was then used as the main entry point for Asian immigration into the United States. In the second part of the essay, he looks at some of the literature about Angel Island and how it mostly focuses on the Chinese. He also talks about the layout of the island and its two mess halls. I found his description of the two mess halls important because it shows the division between the Asians and Europeans who came through Angel Island. In this part,  he also states that there was some resistance by Chinese immigrants to Angel Islands, mostly in the form of lawsuits. He also mentions that following the San Fransico earthquake and fire in 1906, most Chinese immigrants successfully claimed that they were native-born citizens (the fire had destroyed much of the immigration records, so there was no way to dispute their claims). This would allow them to travel back and forth to China and work. To conclude his essay, Daniels states that Angel Island, just like Ellis Island in the east,  became a symbol to those that have had ancestors come through their doors and that we should not forget its history.

National Insecurities (Reading Blog #15)

“national Insecurities”,  written by Deirdre Moloney,  is an essay that discusses American immigration policy and laws. She begins by talking about the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, and how these events help change the immigration landscape in the new millennium. She states that after 9/11, Americans tended to look at immigrants differently. she also mentions in the first section that there has been increased tension between local authorities and ICE agents, especially in states like Arizona,  New Mexico,  and Texas. Despite all of this,  Moloney still claims that the raids conducted against immigrants are cases of racial profiling. In the second section of the essay,  she states that labor unions were against immigrants and that they were strong proponents for tougher immigration policies and laws. This view,  however,  was only temporary, because labor unions now depend on service sector employees due to dwindling membership. In the final section of the essay,  Moloney states that gender also played a part in this. She states that missing from most works about immigration is “a systematic analysis of how racial construction or identity was shaped by gender”.

In all, I think that Moloney described and discussed the topic greatly. She hits all the key points that deal with immigration policy here in the United States, and that we should continue to fight for immigrants who just want a better life here.

“History in a New Millennium” (Reading Blog #13)

“History in a New Millennium” is a chapter in the book From Herodotus to H-Net by Jeremy D. Popkin. The chapter covers the events of the Irving v. Penguin Books Ltd case,  the people involved in the case, and the importance of accepting history as is rather than denying it. The case itself (which the 2016 film Denial is based off) was mainly between Holocaust historians David Irving and Deborah Lipstadt. In her book, Denying the Holocaust: the Growing Assult on Truth and Memory,  Lipstadt names Irving as one of the main Holocaust deniers. In response, Irving sued Lipstadt, claiming that she defamed his name. After introducing the case, Popkin then begins to talk about how historians at the turn of the millennium were drifting toward a middle point between “a sweeping postmodern rejection of the whole notion of historical truth and an indefensible positivist assumption that the facts about the past would speak for themselves”. As I read more and more of this chapter,  I realized that all of this is still true. That those that deny (and continue to deny) the Holocaust are the same as Americans that deny the fact that African slavery was part of American history. Richard J. Evans, who was part of that 2000 trial, said that “objective history is history that is researched and written within the limits placed on the historical imagination by the facts of history and the sources that reveal them”. In the end, the 2000 trial reaffirmed most historians’ conviction that the search for historical truths is too important to abandon, and that we must continue to follow fact.

“Selling the East in the American South” (Reading Blog #12)

In this reading, Vivek Bald talks mostly about the Bengali Muslims that immigrated to the America. He states that most of them were cart peddlers and that some moved down to the New Orleans region of the American south. He highlights the importance of the Bengali peddler network and how it helps create a better understanding of Asian immigration to the deep south. One thing that I did find interesting is that most of the Bengali immigrants didn’t settle permanently,  but those that did integrated into the African-American working class. It’s also worth noting that at this time, the American attitude toward Chinese immigrants turned xenophobic, so people started to change their interest to immigrants from places like India, Persia,  and, in this case,  the Bengal delta. In conclusion, I believe that learning more about the life of the Bengali peddlers is important to understand Asian immigration to America.

“Nation of Migrants” & “A Part and Apart” (Reading Blog #11)

The Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration, an essay by Adam Goodman,  was written as a support to Oscar Handlin’s The Uprooted (or at least a response to Rudi Vecoli’s and George Sanchez’s response to Handlin). Goodman looked deeper into John F. Kennedy’s “Nation of Immigrants” speech, as well as Handlin’s immigration paradigm theory. Goodman argues that the dominance of the immigration paradigm gave European immigrants a privileged place in the history of the United States, while immigrants from elsewhere were treated as secondary actors to the immigration story.  African-Americans, Native Americans,  and other groups that were already here were excluded altogether. He also added that doubling down on this theory would not help those groups that I previously had mentioned,  and possibly even making their situation worse. Goodman concluded that the only way for the immigration paradigm to be solved, historians must study the stories of the immigrants.

A Part and Apart, an essay by Erika Lee, however,  focused more on the contrasting theories between George Sanchez and Rudi Vecoli. While both agreed that the European was the prototypical immigrant, both had different views when it came to determining which groups are more important to American immigration. Sanchez argues that the more recent immigration groups (like Asians, Latinos, and, to some extent,  Middle-easterners) are more important to the immigration story. Vecoli, however,  suggests that we should continue to focus on European immigrants while including the groups that Sanchez states. Personally, I think that while both of these groups do need to be researched more, the story of African-Americans needs to be studied more in the future.

“More Trans-, Less’National'” & “Globalizing Migration Histories?” (Reading Blog #10)

In More Trans-, Less National, Mathew Jacobson tries to explore “transnationalism” and its role in immigration history. First, he mentions Oscar Handlin’s The Uprooted. It was this work that made Jacobson conclude that “immigrants were American history”. Jacobson also concludes that Handlin helped establish a durable nationalist framework from which the field has only unevenly and haltingly emerged. he then mentions the emerging interest of immigration history, citing the founding of the Ellis Island National Park. In the final section of this essay,  Jacobson tells us that there are two themes of national identity, one of which (which I think is the most important) is described as “a nation of immigrants” that help build America. This is proven to be true when you consider American innovators like Nikola Tesla and Andrew Carnegie were immigrants themselves. In Globalizing Migration Histories, Bruno Ramirez takes Jacobson’s study on immigration and expands it to a more global focus. He notes that globalization as a “space of particular migration movements that originated from a given region or country that became worldwide.” Ramirez also states that migration might be the result of a historiographical process (kinda like how the first humans migrated out of Africa). He uses migration case studies from Italy and Canada to support this.

In conclusion, I think both of these are good essays to study about immigration and migration.  I always knew that immigration had always played a major role in our nation’s history,  but I did not know that migration also played a role.

The Invention of Ethnicity in the United States & Race, Nation, Culture in Recent Immigration Studies (Reading Blog #9)

In The Invention of Ethnicity in the United States, the main point that they got across is that mass immigration is persistently a theme in American history. Some scholars,  however,  have emphasized on immigrants resistance to assimilation. Cozen explains that ethnic social groups in America are formed when immigrants move here without the sole purpose of integration. This would also lead to the development of ethnic neighborhoods in large cities,  like New York,  Boston,  and Chicago.  Race,  Nation, Culture in Recent Immigration Studies,  by George Sanchez, mostly covers the same thing as the previous reading. However, Sanchez looks deeper into modern issues regarding immigration and race. Sanchez recalls that once the sweatshops were discovered, the march toward equal,  fair,  and safer working conditions had begun. At the time,  most of the working conditions that these immigrants had suffered under were unfair and inhumane,  especially for Latino and Asian workers. Most of the unfair working conditions would lead to the formation of labor unions and the push of major civil rights legislation.

Race and immigration,  at times, may be different,  but in the end, they are one in the same.  It is nearly impossible to talk about one without talking about the other. Personally, I think that we need to continue this conversation.

Immigrant Women: Nowhere at Home & Women’s Place in the History of the Irish Diaspora (Reading Blog #8)

Donna Gabaccia’s Immigrant Women: Nowhere at Home explores the comparison between the studies of women to the studies of immigrant women, with both playing a major role in world history. She states that both sides require an important look at the history of families (or in Ireland’s case, clans) and the roles that women play in family life. Gabaccia argues that immigrant women had more positive experiences in family life. This is due to the fact that families in the 1970’s were “female-centric”, which gave them a feeling of authority. Women’s Place in the History of the Irish Diaspora by Janet Nolan dives deeper into the subject of immigrant women in America and describes their impact on society. She states that t Irish women not only were as numerous as the men but that they outnumbered them in some regions and cities. she also mentions that while most Irish immigrant women were domestic servants and textile workers, some, like Irish Catholic nuns, were educators,  and that they were credited with establishing Catholic education in the American mid-west.

In conclusion, I think both of these readings are very informative, albeit very short in length.

Hyphen-nation (Reading Blog #7)

Hyphen-nation, chapter one of Roots Too by Annie Rophie, explores ethnicity in America and its impact on American society. In the first section of the chapter, Rophie talks about President John F. Kennedy and his return to Ireland in June 1963. Kennedy,  an Irish-American and the first Catholic president, traveled to Ireland to visit his extended family. To the people that saw this trip, it would spark interest in Americans,  making them to see themselves something else other than American. In the second section,  she mentions an “ethnic revival”, where disenfranchised minority groups started to fight for and demand civil rights. leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr and Cesar Chavez led the charge for equal rights for the African-American and Latino-American communities respectfully. Rophie also talks about a different ethnic revival, one that is caused by anti-modernism. during this ethnic revival,  people forgot why their ancestors came to America in the first place, and begin to romanticize the motherland/fatherland. This ethnic revival would segment into Rophie’s final section in the chapter,  the Heritage Project. after romanticizing their homeland or watching mind-awakening programs like Roots, people desired to know where they came from. This led to the start of heritage trips,  the development of basic family trees, and eventually with the internet, research connecting a person’s family history with a location around the world (websites like ancestry.com are examples of this).

In conclusion,  I think that Rophie could have explained this topic a little bit better,  but in the end, she did manage to get her point across that ethnicity plays a big role in our society.

Excerps from “Immigration Portrayed as an Experience of Transplantation” and “From the Uprooted to the Transplanted” (Reading Blog #6)

Tonight, I read excerpts from two essays that deal with immigration. The first essay, Immigration Portrayed as an Experience of Transplantation, looks at immigration on a larger scale than it did in the second essay. in this essay, Bodnar talks about what he calls “two immigrant Americas”. The first immigrant America was one that consisted of workers with menial jobs, like grocery store employee, janitors, garbage collectors, etc. The second immigrant America held positions which pursued personal gain and leadership. In a way,  one immigrant America is the employee and the other is the employer. Bodnar would also mention an immigrant hierarchy (or at least what I interpreted it to be based on the text). On the top of the hierarchy were middle-class supporters of capitalism, entrepreneurs from the immigrant class, and industrialists from urban centers. Beneath them were millions of common, ordinary people. Another topic that Bodnar would bring up that immigrants could not completely understand what was taking place as capitalism entered their world. So in lieu of this, they (the immigrants) would create their own explanations for what was happening at the time. Ultimately, the mentality and culture of most immigrants to urban America was a blend of past and present and centered on the immediate and the attainable. From the Uprooted to the Transplanted, written by Rudolph Vecoli, hit on the same points that the previous essay did, but Vecoli would focus more on the American story, stating that “the story of the republic had been one of an uninterrupted march towards its Manifest Destiny led by wise and virtuous leaders, all of whom were male, white, and Anglo”. Vecoli continued to talk about American immigration, mentioning the history and the impact that Ellis Island has had.

In conclusion, both essays explain and note the impact that immigrants have had on American culture and society. Even though Bodnar’s essay explains the plight of immigrants more so than Vecoli’s, the story of immigrants in America is hard to ignore.