Immigration and Ethnic Relations in American History

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Immigration and Ethnic Relations in American History
Prof. Carl Guarneri

Office: Galileo 312, x4592 Email:

Course Description:
Perhaps no other country in the world has been shaped by such a diverse population as the United States. This course studies immigrant and ethnic groups in America from the Revolution to the present, assessing their response to and impact upon American society as well as the changing attitudes and policies of the “host” society. Topics to be discussed include the global context and foreign background of immigration; problems of adjustment, assimilation and mobility in comparative perspective; “colonized” vs. immigrant minorities, ethnic culture and politics; anti-immigrant movements; federal policy toward immigrants and minorities; theories of the “melting pot” and “cultural pluralism”; and the impact of recent Asian and Latino immigrations. Special segments of the course will also evaluate the importance of race and the uniqueness of the African-American experience. Students will be encouraged to relate their own family histories to these larger issues and trends, but will also be expected to approach unfamiliar topics and experiences with the same commitment and curiosity.
Course Objectives:
This course aims to understand the rich and varied history of migration to the United States by examining it at multiple times and scales. Its time periods range from the colonial peopling of the British colonies through the great European migration of 1880-1924 to the post-World War II influx of Asian and Hispanic migrants. Its scale of analysis ranges from studying global migration patterns and theories of the American ethnic mix to studying the experience of particular groups and the impact of ethnicity on individual lives and identities. Within groups, we will learn how race, class, gender, religion, and identity have shaped ethnic experience; beyond the group, we will discover common patterns of institutional and family dynamics; in relations with other groups and with American society generally, we will explore how religious, ethnic, and political differences have shaped definitions of American identity and shifting legislation about immigration and citizenship. Special attention is given to the unique experiences of racial groups, especially Asians and African Americans, among migrants to or within the United States. Our explorations will help students to understand the historical background of today’s debates over immigration policy and multiculturalism. More generally, students will hone their critical reading and writing skills by focusing on developing historical interpretations and arguments that marshal evidence persuasively. Throughout the course, students will appreciate the complexity and the momentous implications of American diversity by studying the ramifications of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and religion in Americans’ worldviews and their daily lives.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Place migration to colonial America and the United States from the 1600s to the present in an accurate and coherent chronological sequence. (Social, Historical, Cultural Understanding [SHCU], #1)

  2. Identify the major migration trends and issues of each period as well as patterns common to long-range migration in each era. (SHCU, #1)

  3. Identify and assess various historical and sociological theories of ethnic relations that attempt to describe values and behaviors of America’s national and subnational groupings. (SHCU, #2; American Diversity)

  4. Analyze how social categories such as race, region, class, gender, religion, ethnic identity, and sexual orientation have shaped the immigrant experience in the United States, both at the group and the individual level. (SHCU, #2; American Diversity)

  5. Understand the complexity of historical explanation, including concepts of causation, contingency, convergence, and individual agency, as they apply to the migration and adjustment of groups and individuals in U.S. history. (SHCU, #2; American Diversity)

  6. Understand the historical antecedents of today’s controversies over immigration policy, affirmative action, and multiculturalism. (SHCU, #1 and 2; American Diversity)

  7. Learn how to gather and interrogate documents (primary sources) as evidence about historical episodes or movements in the history of immigration. (SHCU, #3)

  8. Examine historical issues/problems within their period-appropriate context, and from multiple historical points of view. (SHCU, #4)

  9. Identify and evaluate an historical thesis or interpretation embedded in an historical essay or book. (SHCU, #4)

  10. Compare and contrast conflicting historical interpretations and weigh their arguments and evidence. (SHCU, #4)

  11. Write persuasive and accurately documented historical essays. (SHCU, #3 and 4)

Exams and Other Writing Assignments:
All exams, including the final exam, will be composed of identification questions and interpretive essays. They will not be cumulative. Study questions from which the exam material will be drawn will be distributed in class one week prior to the test dates. These exams are designed to assess your mastery of learning outcomes 3, (American Diversity), 7, 8, and 9.

Paper #1: Conflicting Theories of the American Ethnic Pattern

After reading two opposed essays, Nathan Glazer, “The Emergence of an American Ethnic Pattern,” and Ronald Takaki, “Reflections on Racial Patterns in America,” in Debating Diversity, pp. 5-36 write a brief essay comparing their views of the American ethnic and racial past. Questions to address: What, according to Glazer, has been the basic situation of ethnic groups in the U.S.? How do racial groups fit in this pattern? What supporting evidence does Glazer provide, and how does he deal with conflicting evidence? With what arguments and evidence does Takaki respond to Glazer’s points? Does Takaki have an alternative explanation or theory for the course of American ethnic and racial relations? This paper is designed to assess your mastery of learning outcomes 3, 4, 6 (American Diversity); 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 11 (SHCU).

Paper #2: Italian and Jewish Immigrant Women: Two Autobiographies

Drawing upon the oral histories of Rosa Cassetari and Rose Gollup in Immigrant Voices, pp. 110-172, analyze the experience of these immigrant women as they recall the process of migration, adjustment, and assimilation. Discuss themes that are touched on in these autobiographies, such as reasons for leaving Europe, the migration experience, adjustment to America, work opportunities, changes in women’s and family roles, discrimination, and evolving group/individual identity. Try to relate or compare the two women’s experiences to each other and to what we have learned about the experience of migrants in general, especially women and families. This paper is designed to assess your mastery of learning outcomes 4, 5 (American Diversity); 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11 (SHCU).

Paper #3: Comparing Black and White Migrations
Drawing upon Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, Parts 1, 3, and 4, Immigrant Voices, and other relevant course sources, compare the experience of black migrants to the urban North in the middle of the 20th century with that of European groups who arrived during the great migration of 1880-1924. Include discussion of the migrants’ background, the process of migration and settlement, discrimination, assimilation and economic opportunity. What similarities and differences do you discern, and what are their causes and consequences? This paper is designed to assess your mastery of learning outcomes 3, 4, 5, 6 (American Diversity); 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11.
Document Report:
This three-page paper and oral report requires you to select a primary source from the collection, Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History, edited by Jon Gjerde, and to use it to illuminate a specific historical question or issue. See details at the end of this syllabus.

This report is designed to assess your mastery of learning outcomes 4 (American Diversity), 7, 8 (SHCU).

Required Texts:
Jon Gjerde, ed. Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History

Ronald Takaki, ed., Debating Diversity: Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity in America, 3rd ed.

Milton Gordon, Assimilation in American Life

Kenneth Morgan, Slavery and Servitude in Colonial America

Thomas Dublin, Immigrant Voices: New Lives in America, 1773-1986

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

Reed Ueda, Postwar Immigrant America

Various reprints to be distributed.

Schedule of Classes and Assignments:

T Aug. 29 Introduction

Part I: Overviews, Definitions, and Theories
Th Sept. 1 The Global Context of American Immigration

Hoerder, "From Immigration to Migrations Systems” –reprint

T Sept. 6 Patterns in the History of American Immigration

Ueda, Postwar Immigrant America, 1-15

Th Sept. 8 Defining Ethnicity and Assimilation

Gordon, Assimilation in American Life, 19-83

T Sept. 13 More on Models and Theories

Conzen and others, “The Invention of Ethnicity in the US” (Major Problems, 22-28)

Heisler, “The Sociology of Immigration”--reprint

Th Sept. 15 A Debate on the American Ethnic Pattern

Glazer, "The Emergence of an American Ethnic Pattern," and Takaki, "Reflections

on Racial Patterns in America" (Debating Diversity, 5-36)

Part II: The Peopling of America, to 1800
T Sept. 20 Forming the Core Population: Red, White, and Black

Breen, "Creative Adaptations" (Major Problems, 45-55)

Menard, "Outcome of Repeopling British North America" (Major Probs, 55-67)

Th Sept. 22 Majority Migrants in the Colonial Era: Indentured Servants and Slaves

Morgan, Slavery and Servitude in Colonial America, pp. 14-120
T Sept. 27 Nation, Citizenship, and Identity in the Age of Revolution

Kettner, "The Creation of Citizenship in the British American Colonies and

Early U.S." (Major Problems, 82-89)

Mann, "The Creation of American Identity in the Late Eighteenth Century"

(Major Problems, 89-95)
Th Sept. 29 How Slavery and Race Complicate American Immigration and Identity

Martinez, “Reinventing ‘America’: Call for a New National Identity” (Debating Diversity, 81-85)

Blauner, “Colonized and Immigrant Minorities”--reprint


Part III: The Great Migrations, 1840-1945
Th Oct. 6 Patterns of Migration from Europe, 1750-1914

Moch, "The European Perspective"—reprint

T Oct. 11 Nineteenth-Century Immigrants: Exiles vs. Transplants

Miller, "Irish Immigrants Who Perceive America as Exile" (Major Problems, 113- 123)

Conzen, "German Catholic Immigrants Who Make Their Own America" (Major Problems, 123-132)
T Oct. 18 Immigrant Institutions: Neighborhood, Church, Family

Diner, “Changes between Women and Men in the Irish American Family” (Major

Problems, 252-262

Ruiz, “Changes between Daughters and Parents in the Mexican American Family”

(Major Problems, 262-271)

Glenn, “A Bridge to College for Jewish Sons” (Debating Diversity, 153-159)

Th Oct. 20 Immigrant Institutions: Business and Politics

Handlin, "Democracy and Power"—reprint

Gabaccia, “Ethnic Entrepreneurs”--reprint
T Oct. 25 Immigration and Industrialization / Unions and the Ethnic Labor Market

Bonacich, “A Theory of Ethnic Antagonism: The Split Labor Market”--reprint

Gutman, "Immigrants Adjust to Industrial Labor..." (Major Problems,


Meyer, ""Efforts at Americanization in the Industrial Workplace" (Major Problems, 323-332)

Th Oct. 27 The Great Migration of 1870-1914: Italians and Jews

Immigrant Voices, Chapters 4 + 5

T Nov. 1 The Experience of Asian Migrants, 1850-1945

Chan, "Chinese Migration to the U.S. in the Context of the Larger Chinese

Diaspora" (Major Problems, 195-202)

Immigrant Voices, Chapter 8

Daniels, "World War II and the Forced Relocation of Japanese Americans"

(Major Problems, 395-404)
Th Nov. 3 Nativism and Immigration Restriction

Ueda, Postwar Immigrant America, 18-38

Anbinder, "Ideology of the Know Nothing Party" (Major Problems, 152-160)


Part IV: Immigration after the 1930s and Its Implications
Th Nov. 10 Immigrants, Ethnicity, and Mass Culture

Sanchez, "Role of Popular Culture in the Mexican American Community in

Los Angeles" (Major Problems, 370-379)

Video on Jewish Humor (in class)

T Nov. 15 African-American Migrants in the Urban North

Kristol, “The Negro Today is Like the Immigrant Yesterday” (Debating Diversity,


Glazer, “American Blacks, It Turned Out, Are Not Like the Immigrants of

Yesterday” (Debating Diversity, 248-254)

Wilkerson, Warmth of Other Suns, Parts 1, 3, and 4

Th Nov. 17 Mexican Immigration and the Search for Identity

Immigrant Voices, Chapter 7

Rodriguez, “Mexico’s Children” and “Hispanic”—reprint

T Nov. 22 Patterns of Immigration Since 1965

Ueda, Postwar Immigrant America, 42-80

Barkan, "The Recent Era of Immigration to the U.S." (Major Problems,


Fong, "New Ethnic Patterns of Residence: The First Suburban Chinatown"

(Major Problems, 475-485)

T Nov. 29 The American Ethnic Pattern: Theories and Realities

Gordon, Assimilation in American Life, 84-159

Ueda, Postwar Immigrant America, 83-134

Th Dec. 1 E Pluribus Unum? Multiculturalism, Multiracialism, and "Postethnic" America

Hollinger, “Moving Beyond Multiculturalism to a Postethnic America” (Major

Problems, 440-448)

Nakashima, “Voices From the Movement: Approaches to Multiraciality” (Debating

Diversity, 184-193)

Takaki, “A Different Mirror: Multicultural Ties That Bind America” (Debating

Diversity, 260-268)

Walzer, “What Does It Mean to be an American?”—reprint

T Dec. 6 Race, Ethnicity and Public Policy

Ueda, Postwar Immigrant America, 134-144

Wilson and Tien, “Ending/Defending Affirmative Action” (Debating Diversity,


Wilson, “The Black Community: Race and Class” (Debating Diversity, 207-216)
Th Dec. 8 The Contemporary Debate Over Immigration

Samuelson, “The Limits of Immigration” (Debating Diversity, 217-218)

Defreitas, “Fear of Foreigners: Immigrants as Scapegoats” (Debating Diversity,


Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations,” (Debating Diversity, 75-80)

FINAL EXAM: Tuesday, Dec. 13, 11:30-1:30

Grade Distribution:

15% Class participation and Extra-Curricular Events

20% First Exam

20% Second Exam

25% Papers/Document Reports

20% Final Exam

Grading standards:
Grades for written work will be based on the following:

1. Focus. What is your thesis? Did the topic sentence for each paragraph establish what the paragraph will argue or demonstrate?

2. Evidence. Did you provide sufficient and convincing evidence for your argument? Where did your evidence come from? Is it reliable?

3. Development. Did your essay develop the argument logically? Was it organized coherently from one paragraph to the next? Did each paragraph advance your thesis?

4. Diction and grammar. Was your choice of words appropriate to the subject matter? Were your sentences grammatically correct?

5. Sophistication and originality. Did your paper have something original to say? Are the ideas challenging? Is the essay interesting enough for an audience beyond the professor?

Expectations for paper grades:

A: Excellent: high quality ideas, thoughtful, challenging, original, coherent, clear, concise, flawless grammar

B: Good: well-argued, conventional ideas, grammatically correct

C: Average: fair argument, rudimentary thesis, requires significant improvement

D: Passing: paper with undeveloped or unclear thesis; serious grammatical problems

F: Fail: paper shows no understanding; or deeply flawed in its argument, ideas, grammar, thesis

Grades for class participation will be based on five criteria:

1. listening to and interacting with peers

2. preparation for class

3. quality of contributions

4. advancing class discussion

5. frequency and consistency of participation

6. in-class quizzes

Expectations: Class participation deserving of an A grade will be strong in most categories; Participation that is strong in some categories but needs development in others will receive a B; a grade of C reflects a need for development in most categories; D work is typically unsatisfactory in several categories; and F work, unsatisfactory in nearly all.

Attendance Policy:
Students will be allowed three absences during the semester. Absences above that number, no matter what the reason, may require make-up assignments: you must consult with me individually on this. More than five absences can result in grade penalties.
Course Moodle site: The course Moodle site will archive copies of the syllabus, assignment sheets, and exam study guides. As the semester proceeds I will also add readings, images, and PowerPoint slides seen in class. To access the site, go to the My Saint Mary’s login page via the SMC website, then type your SMC email username (the part before @) as the username) and type your 7-digit SMC ID# as your password. Click on the GaelLearn (Moodle) icon and then open up the HIST-138-01 course site.
Email: Unless I am replying to an email you sent me from another address, I will always use your Saint Mary’s email address to contact you or to send an email to the class. If you prefer to receive my emails and other official SMC emails at your gmail, yahoo, or other address, you can arrange to have them automatically forwarded. Contact the Saint Mary’s CaTS help desk for assistance at 631-4266 or
Academic Honesty: This course operates under the premises of the Saint Mary’s academic honor code, by which students pledge to do their own work in their own words, without seeking inappropriate aid in preparing for exams or assignments. Saint Mary’s College expects every member of its community to abide by the Academic Honor Code. According to the Code, “Academic dishonesty is a serious violation of College policy because, among other things, it undermines the bonds of trust and honesty between members of the community.” Violations of the Code include but are not limited to acts of plagiarism. For more information, please consult the Student Handbook at I am available to discuss issues of academic integrity in general as well as specific information about plagiarism, appropriate citation, and collaboration for this course.
Disability Statement:
Student Disability Services extends reasonable and appropriate accommodations that take into account the context of the course and its essential elements, for individuals with qualifying disabilities. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Student Disability Services Director at (925) 631-4164 to set up a confidential appointment to discuss accommodation guidelines and available services. Additional information regarding the services available may be found at the following address on the Saint Mary’s website:

History 136 Document Essay and Class Presentation
After signing up to work on a specific document from the Major Problems book, read the document carefully. Check out how the editors introduce the document in the section labeled “Documents” at the beginning of the document section of the relevant chapter. Be sure also to consult the other assigned readings that are due the same day as your document will be discussed. These may help provide background information and give you clues as to how to interpret your document in light of other events. To help identify the author of the document, you can do a simple Google search. If this search turns up no information, that probably means that the document comes from an “average” person, which is important information in itself.
After you have taken notes and thought about your document, write a 3-page, double-spaced essay on what it can tell us about the topic under discussion. (Notice the topic next to your due date.)
Here are some questions to consider as you analyze your document. Your essay should cover these, although not necessarily in the exact same order.
Who is the author? Does the author’s gender, occupation, location, political stand, or social situation matter?

When was the source composed? What is the historical context in which the source was written and read?

Who is the intended audience? Is the document public or private, official or informal?

What was the purpose of the document? Was it intended to provide information? To persuade others? To gain sympathy? To get the listener or reader to do something?

What assumptions, emotions, or arguments are embedded in the source? What can you see or learn from the document that the author was perhaps unaware of?

And finally, the most important: What useful information and/or interpretations does the document give us about the person, issue, or event it relates to? How can it help us to interpret this episode in the history of U.S. immigration?
**Due date: Your essay is due on the day we discuss the document—see the sign-up sheet for this.
**Documentation: no footnotes are necessary. Simply provide the page number in parenthesis whenever you use a quotation.
**Oral presentation: On the due date you will be asked to tell the class briefly and informally what you learned from the document. Do not read your paper to us, but try to summarize your main points and point out key passages in the document for the class to notice or discuss. Hopefully, we’ll take it from there.

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