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Replenished Ethnicity

Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 366
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  • Book Info
    Replenished Ethnicity
    Book Description:

    Unlike the wave of immigration that came through Ellis Island and then subsided, immigration to the United States from Mexico has been virtually uninterrupted for one hundred years. In this vividly detailed book, Tomás R. Jiménez takes us into the lives of later-generation descendents of Mexican immigrants, asking for the first time how this constant influx of immigrants from their ethnic homeland has shaped their assimilation. His nuanced investigation of this complex and little-studied phenomenon finds that continuous immigration has resulted in a vibrant ethnicity that later-generation Mexican Americans describe as both costly and beneficial.Replenished Ethnicitysheds new light on America's largest ethnic group, making it must reading for anyone interested in how immigration is changing the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94607-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-30)

    Sitting just southwest of Manhattan less than a mile from the Statue of Liberty is the most renowned symbol of U.S. immigration: Ellis Island.¹ During the period of heavy European migration, which lasted from roughly 1880 to 1920, twenty-four million migrants came to the United States from countries such as Ireland, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Russia, seeking religious and political freedom and economic opportunity. Half of them passed through Ellis Island before venturing on to other destinations in the industrializing United States. But a series of events conspired to all but end the great European migration. World War...

    (pp. 31-65)

    The Mexican anthropologist Manuel Gamio opens his book on Mexican immigrants in the United States with the observation quoted above and goes on to describe in great detail the patterns of Mexican migration, the experiences of Mexican migrants, and the social, political, and economic factors shaping them. While much has changed since Gamio conducted his study in the 1920s, his observations ring true more than three-quarters of a century later. In fact, many of his observations are applicable to virtually any point in time during the last hundred years. As figure 2 shows, the continuing relevance of Gamio’s observations owes...

  8. THREE Dimensions of Mexican-American Assimilation
    (pp. 66-100)

    The dramatic immigration-driven growth of the Mexican-origin population has spawned a groundswell of concern about the group’s assimilation. Some argue that Mexican immigration threatens the United States by contributing to the onset of a polyglot nation in which enduring ethnic attachments come at the expense of a larger American national identity. Political scientist Samuel Huntington’s polemic bookWho Are We?provides an elaborate articulation of these fears. He argues that the persistent influx of Mexican immigrants has contributed to confusion about the American national identity so crucial to the prosperity of the republic. In an excerpt of the book published...

  9. FOUR Replenishing Mexican Ethnicity
    (pp. 101-137)

    Mexican Americans’ structural assimilation and the intergenerational decline of ethnic traditions and customs within the family do not lead to a purely symbolic form of ethnic identity, as canonical theories of assimilation predict. Instead, immigrant replenishment provides a sun that staves off the twilight of ethnicity among later-generation Mexican Americans. The large Mexican-immigrant and second-generation populations have made Mexican ethnicity a prominent part of the social structure in these two cities, and ethnicity is a more accessible and salient aspect of Mexican Americans’ social identity as a result.

    The social “construction” of racial and ethnic categories and their corresponding identities...

    (pp. 138-178)

    The ways in which Mexican immigrants make ethnicity a salient aspect of Mexican Americans’ identities manifest not only in the access they provide to the practice of ethnicity but also in the way their presence sharpens the boundaries that define Mexican-American ethnic identity. The hit movieSelena(1997) portrays a scene that suggests how these boundaries operate in the lives of Mexican Americans.Selenatells the story of the slain Mexican-American pop star who gains fame in both the United States and Mexico. At one point in the film, Selena learns that she will perform in Mexico for the first...

  11. SIX Assessing Mexican Immigration: THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE
    (pp. 179-214)

    As the last two chapters have shown, not only do foreign-born Mexicans provide abundant access to ethnic raw materials, but also they influence the boundaries of ethnic identity. The large Mexican-immigrant presence places Mexican Americans in an in-between position that makes them seem at times not completely American and at other times not fully Mexican. This in-between position shapes how Mexican Americans view immigration from their ethnic homeland. As U.S.-born people of Mexican descent, the people I interviewed are part of the larger “host” population that evaluates whether Mexican immigration is positive or negative for the United States, whether immigration...

    (pp. 215-249)

    On a warm evening in the spring of 2002, the Santa Maria City Council chamber was bursting at the seams. Over a hundred people, mostly Mexican immigrants, crowded into the narrow chamber, and those who could not find a seat stood in the hallway just outside. Many carried signs with slogans such as “Santa Maria is our community,” “I love Santa Maria,” “Future teacher in Santa Maria,” and “I want to learn English.” Also among the people in the chamber were long-time residents of the city, mostly older whites, who sat stoically as the immigrants displayed their placards. The unusually...

  13. EIGHT Conclusion
    (pp. 250-272)

    No other group in the United States provokes more concern about the country’s future than ethnic Mexicans. Fears about their assimilation come from scholars, pundits, and policy makers of all political stripes. Some claim that people of Mexican origin are reluctant to adapt to a putative American way of life and thus choose to live outside the U.S. mainstream. Others argue that ethnic Mexicans are not assimilating because their opportunity to do so is stymied by historical and present-day discrimination. Often lost in these debates are Mexican Americans whose ancestral roots extend deeply into U.S. history. Analysis of these later-generation...

  14. APPENDIX A: Methodological Issues
    (pp. 273-281)
  15. APPENDIX B: List of Respondents
    (pp. 282-288)
  16. APPENDIX C: Interview Questions
    (pp. 289-302)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 303-312)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 313-330)
  19. Index
    (pp. 331-347)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 348-348)