On Immigration and Nativism, some readings…

Those of you who have taken AMST 3252 Globalization and American Culture, or addressed the history of immigration to the United States probably know a little of the history behind Donald Trump’s appeal to “Make America Great” by “Build[ing] That Wall” between the US and Mexico. In case you want to do a little more reading on the issue, however, I’d recommend the following materials:

  • UVA Professor Hector Amaya’s recent post to UC Santa Barbara’s “Global-E” Blog, entitled “The Citizens Have Spoken.” He says, among other things,

The old Greek tension between racial nativism and egalitarianism is the unsolvable riddle on which we have built our political world. Trump is not an aberration. Neither is nativism. Racial nativism in the United States today is the dark side of citizenship and an expression of core-periphery relations within a state, showing how coloniality continues to shape the nation form.

  • Aviva Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, which examines the historical, political, legal and social discourses that have made the notion of “illegal” immigration a prominent part of the way we think immigration. As she shows, “illegality is lot more complicated” than it seems.
  • Matthew Frye Jacobson’s, highly readable Barbarian Virtues: The US confronts Foreign Peoples At Home and Abroad, 1876-1917, which addresses the intersection of US colonialism and migration patterns at the turn of the 20th century–a pivotal moment in US immigration history and a high point of Nativism in the US (until now?).
  • Roger Daniels, Guarding the Golden Door: Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882, which traces the modern production of US national identity to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and moves forward from there…

Immigration policy in Daniels’ skilled hands shows Americans at their best and worst, from the nativist violence that forced Theodore Roosevelt’s 1907 “gentlemen’s agreement” with Japan to the generous refugee policies adopted after World War Two and throughout the Cold War. And in a conclusion drawn from today’s headlines, Daniels makes clear how far ignorance, partisan politics, and unintended consequences have overtaken immigration policy during the current administration’s War on Terror

  • Ruben Martinez, Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, which follows one family’s journeys across the border…

The U.S.-Mexican border is one of the most permeable boundaries in the world, breached daily by Mexicans in search of work. Yet the migrant gambit is perilous. Thousands die crossing the line and those who reach “the other side” are branded illegals, undocumented and unprotected.

In Crossing Over, Ruben Martinez puts a human face on the phenomenon, following the exodus of the Chávez clan, an extended Mexican family with the grim distinction of having lost three sons in a tragic border incident. He charts the migrants’ progress from their small south-Mexican town of Cherán through the harrowing underground railroad to the tomato farms of Missouri, the strawberry fields of California, and the slaughterhouses of Wisconsin. He reveals the effects of immigration on the family left behind and offers a powerful portrait of migrant culture

Undocumented [book] Barbarian Virtues [book] The Golden Door [book] Crossing Over [book]




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