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Class and Race Formation in North America

Class and Race Formation in North America

James W. Russell
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 204
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  • Book Info
    Class and Race Formation in North America
    Book Description:

    "Russell's meticulously researched and highly detailed book presents a critically important people's history of North America. It provides rich insights and demonstrates the potential of comparative research to broaden our perspective." - Dan Zuberi, University of British Columbia

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8972-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Maps
    (pp. viii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    The visual evidence of social inequality between and within North American societies is glaring. Anyone who has traveled the length of North America knows of the vast gulf that divides the average standards of living of the United States and Canada from that of Mexico. The United States and Canada have all of the opulence of First World countries, while Mexico has all of the extensive poverty and misery of a Third World country. That Mexico and the United States share a common 1,945-mile border—a border that culturally separates Latin from Anglo America, as well as the two countries...

    (pp. 13-34)

    The modern history of class and race in North America begins with the violent imposition of European colonial rule over pre-existing indigenous societies. Never before or after has world history witnessed human devastation on this scale. Across all of the Americas as many as 150 million Indians succumbed within a century to the guns, forced labor, or diseases of their conquerors. During the same period, millions of Africans were kidnapped and brought to the Americas to work as slaves. It is impossible to understand the contemporary class inequality of Indians and African-Americans without first examining these historical antecedents.

    It is...

  7. Chapter 3 A NEW EMPIRE
    (pp. 35-54)

    For 35 centuries different empires have formed, disappeared, and been in contention in North American history. The first empires, beginning with the Olmec on the Gulf Coast of what is now Mexico, formed among the indigenous populations. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, the last and largest of a number of indigenous empires, European empires—including the French and British as well as Spanish—struggled over control of the continent. Wars of independence drove the Spanish and British empires out of the areas that would become Mexico and the United States. Canada evolved toward substantive independence through agreement and...

  8. Chapter 4 IMMIGRATION
    (pp. 55-72)

    Because Britain, Spain, and France were the major colonizers of North America, they accounted for the original white immigrant stock and cultural practices. For that reason, today, English, Spanish, and French are the predominant languages of the continent, being spoken respectively by approximately 62, 29, and 2 per cent of its occupants.¹ The largest proportions of North America’s European-origin or white population continue to be British Isle, Spanish, and French descendents.

    Different combinations of these nationalities produced different cultural patterns in the three countries. British immigrants were significant in the United States and Canada but not in Mexico. Spanish immigrants...

  9. Chapter 5 RACE MIXTURE
    (pp. 73-84)

    The four races—Indians, Europeans, Africans, Asians—that have co-inhabited the North American continent for the last half millennium have inevitably produced mixed descendants, the pioneers of a new synthesis fifth race in world history. These mixed-race individuals now make up one-quarter of the contemporary population of North America. They have become the second-largest racial category and, in a continental sense, the largest racial minority.

    Contact between European conquerors and indigenous peoples produced the first mestizos, North America’s largest type of mixed-race individuals. Contact between whites—slave owners and indentured servants—and African slaves produced another type of mixed-race persons.¹...

    (pp. 85-100)

    In his discussion of Canadian economic history, Ronald Manzer concluded that early state economic policy was primarily based on the principle of “appropriation.” That is, the early Canadian state encouraged labor force members to develop business activities by appropriating already existing means of production, such as land, waters, and forests. Given Canada’s bountiful natural resources, there were a large number of opportunities to start up businesses. Farmers could appropriate already existing land to grow crops; fishers could appropriate the waters; lumber cutters could appropriate the trees of the forests; fur trappers could appropriate furbearing animals.

    The result, according to Manzer,...

  11. Chapter 7 NAFTA
    (pp. 101-118)

    During the 1980 presidential campaign in the United States, Republican Party candidate Ronald Reagan announced his goal of creating a free trade zone “from the Yukon to the Yucatan.” By 1988, his last year in office, he had succeeded in negotiating the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA). His Republican Party successor, George H.W. Bush, then carried the campaign forward and by the spring of 1990 began negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which would cover Mexico as well as the United States and Canada.¹

    In one sense, the NAFTA negotiations represented the capstone of the increasing tendency...

    (pp. 119-134)

    A half millennium of uneven development in North American has produced economic class structures in the United States and Canada that are similar and distinctly different in Mexico. The similar economic class structures of the United States and Canada, however, does not carry over to their social class profiles, which are noticeably different, as is that of Mexico. Put differently, North America contains two types of economic class structures and three types of social class profiles.

    As stated earlier but worth reiterating, from one angle classes have to do with the different categories of people who constitute the labor forces...

    (pp. 135-150)

    The South Side of Chicago stretches for miles. Its inhabitants are almost all black, evoking the title of St. Clair Drake and Cayton’s 1945 classic,Black Metropolis. One can board the El, Chicago’s major public transportation system, on the southern edge of the South Side. The train rolls through the black ghetto until it reaches the downtown Loop and then passes into north Chicago, which is mostly white. As it passes through the Loop, white passenger faces systematically replace black faces. Black passengers feel a certain uneasiness if they stay for the white section of the run, and white passengers...

    (pp. 151-162)

    The power structures of the three North American countries reflect in different ways the underlying realities of their respective economic and social class systems. Those who exercise economic power seek at the least to influence if not directly control the exercise of political power. In all three countries there are institutional mechanisms by which economically powerful individuals and corporations influence state policies.

    C. Wright Mills’sThe Power Elite,¹ published in 1956, included the most influential postwar sociological explanation of the relationship between economics and state power in the United States. According to Mills, in the United States power is exercised...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 163-184)
    (pp. 185-196)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 197-204)