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American Ethnic History

Themes and Perspectives

Jason J. McDonald

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£23.99
Hardback
£70.00
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This book provides a new framework for examining and comprehending the varied historical experiences of ethnic groups in the United States. Thematically organized and comparative in outlook, it explores how historians have grappled with questions that bear upon a key aspect of the American experience: ethnicity. How did the United States come to have such an ethnically diverse population? What contribution, if any, has this ethnic diversity made to the shaping of American culture and institutions? How easily and at what levels have ethnic and racial minorities been incorporated, if at all, into the social and economic structures of the United States? Has incorporation been a uniform process or has it varied from group to group?

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Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction
I. DEFINING ETHNICITY
1. The Origins and Nature of Ethnic Identity
Introduction
Terminology: Ethnic, Ethnicity, Ethny
Ethnicity: Inherited or Invented?
Race: Variant of Ethnicity or Independent Variable?
Summary
II. PERSPECTIVES ON AMERICAN ETHNIC DIVERSITY
2. The Making of American Ethnic Diversity
Introduction
Hegemonic Origins: Conquest
Hegemonic Origins: Involuntary Migration
Overcoming Biases in Immigration History
Causes of Immigration
Summary
3. Ethnic Adaptation
Introduction
Assimilation: The Melting Pot
Assimilation: Challenging the Melting Pot
Assimilation: Anglo-Conformity
Pluralism
Beyond the Assimilation-Pluralism Dichotomy
Summary
III. MAINSTREAM SOCIETY'S PERCEPTIONS AND POLICIES
4. Ethnicity and the American Creed
Introduction
A 'world-wide welcome'?
'Land of the Free': Equality or Inequality?
'Safety': Ethnic Violence
Summary
5. Ethnic Incorporation
Introduction
Residential Patterns
Education: 'The Great Equalizer'?
Social Mobility: The 'Land of Opportunity'?
Summary
IV. MINORITY GROUP RESPONSES TO AMERICAN LIFE
6. Ethnic Collective Action
Introduction
Causes of Ethnic Collective Action
Varieties of Ethnic Collective Behaviour
Passive Participation: Accommodationism
Passive Non-Participation: Separatism
Active Participation: Reformism
Active Non-Participation: Irredentism, Radicalism
Inter-Ethnic Relations
Summary
7. Confronting Challenges to Ethnic Allegiance
Introduction
Ethnic Boundaries: Fixed or Impermanent?
Agents of Particularism
Culture, Language
Institutions, Religion
Family
Competing Particularisms: Class
Competing Particularisms: Gender
Intermarriage and Boundary Erosion
Summary
Glossary
Bibliography
Index.

About the Author

Jason McDonald has taught at the University of Winchester, Brunel University, and Iowa State University.

Reviews

Jason McDonald's new book will be welcomed by all students of American ethnic history, whether they are newcomers to the field or seasoned experts. It offers a penetrating overview of the central issues of the American ethnic experience, unsurpassed in its coverage. Not only does it clearly and insightfully frame the major historiographical debates, it does what few works have tried – examine the histories of groups with European, African, Asian, and Latin American ancestry as part of a broader, inclusive framework.
- James Ralph, Professor of History, Middlebury College
Jason McDonald has written an elegant book introducing the main debates concerning ethnicity in American history and society. The central achievement of the book is to present in a methodical way the main points of contention among historians and social scientists regarding the making of American ethnicity, the place of ethnicity in American culture and ethnic collective action. This book is a very useful tool for students entering the field of American ethnicity and for specialists searching for a comprehensive discussion of the work in the field.
- Jose Itzigsohn, Associate Professor of Sociology, Brown University

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