“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.

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