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Foreign Relations

Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective

Donna R. Gabaccia
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Foreign Relations
    Book Description:

    Histories investigating U.S. immigration have often portrayed America as a domestic melting pot, merging together those who arrive on its shores. Yet this is not a truly accurate depiction of the nation's complex connections to immigration. Offering a brand-new global history,Foreign Relationstakes a comprehensive look at the links between American immigration and U.S. foreign relations. Donna Gabaccia examines America's relationship to immigration and its debates through the prism of the nation's changing foreign policy over the past two centuries, and she highlights how these ever-evolving dynamics have influenced the lives of individuals moving to and from the United States.

    With an emphasis on American immigration during the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century industrial era and the contemporary era of free trade, Gabaccia shows that immigrants were not isolationists who cut ties to their countries of origin or their families. Instead, their relations to America were often in flux and dependent on government policies of the time. She cites a wide range of examples, such as how bilateral commercial treaties of the nineteenth century influenced whether family members might receive passage to America, how families maintained bonds to their countries of origin through the exchange of letters and goods, and how politics on behalf of the mother country could still be fought from across the ocean. Today, U.S. commercial diplomacy in China and NAFTA-era Mexico raises concerns about immigrants once again, and Gabaccia demonstrates that immigration has altered with America's developing geopolitical position in the world.

    An innovative history of U.S. immigration,Foreign Relationscasts a fresh eye on a compelling and controversial topic.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4222-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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    (pp. 1-23)

    Policy debates in the United States today treat immigration almost exclusively as a domestic problem that must be solved, somehow, with the passage by Congress of better laws. Americans repeatedly debate what those laws should be. Yet laws that treat immigration as a purely domestic problem are likely to fail. Why? Because immigration is an important, continuous, and contentious relationship between the United States and rest of the world. With this book, I suggest that immigration policies might better be debated from a global rather than a domestic perspective.

    Of course, immigration is just one of many connections between the...

  2. 1 ISOLATED OR INDEPENDENT? American Immigration before 1850
    (pp. 24-69)

    Why do immigrants’ foreign attachments so often seem invisible to Americans? Consider the scene captured in 1907 by famed photographer (and child of German Jewish immigrants) Alfred Stieglitz, in the photo entitledSteerage. Students see inSteeragethe deeply familiar image of European immigrants arriving at Ellis Island during the mass migrations of the late nineteenth century. So do careless scholars. They have used Stieglitz’s photograph to illustrate accounts of peasants fleeing poverty in Italy and of Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia.¹ The publishers even put this photo on the cover of the third edition ofThe Heath Anthology of...

    (pp. 70-121)

    Rooted as they are in powerful and almost universal human emotions, the relations between immigrants and their places of origin do not alter dramatically as the origins of immigrants shift. But the world around immigrants and their social networksisapt to change, and to change dramatically. The global economy, with its markets for goods, labor, and capital, alters as connections between various parts of the world thicken, tighten, diminish, or are broken. New transportation and communication technologies transform the global circuits through which ideas are exchanged and information and people travel. Empires and nations are built or collapse. Revolutions...

  4. 3 IMMIGRATION AND RESTRICTION Protection in a Dangerous World, 1850–1965
    (pp. 122-175)

    Reminiscing thirty years later about the politics of the 1890s, former congressman Richard Bartholdt recalled that “the most discussed subjects at that time were immigration, the financial question, and the tariff.”¹ Prominently missing from his list were empire-building and the growing opposition to American global activism that ultimately culminated in isolationist backlash and draconic restrictions on immigration. More than his contemporaries in Congress, Bartholdt probably understood that for American voters the tariff and immigration had been anything but domestic matters in the 1890s: congressmen debated these two issues with fervor precisely because they saw them as closely linked strategies for...

    (pp. 176-221)

    In the forty-five years that followed President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the 1965 Immigration Act, few could ignore changes occurring both within the United States and beyond America’s borders. By the millennium’s turn in 2000, these changes had acquired a brand new label—“globalization.” Invoked 200 times in theNew York Timesduring the 1980s, the word appeared in 910 articles in the 1990s and then almost daily between 2000 and 2007. Globalization furnished a shorthand explanation for just about any change—positive, negative, economic, social, or cultural—underway anywhere in

    Dictionaries defined “globalization” as “the development of an increasingly...

  6. CONCLUSION “The Inalienable Right of Man to Change His Home and Allegiance”
    (pp. 222-234)

    My examination of immigrant foreign relations challenges readers to think in new ways about immigrants’ lives, about the relationship of immigration and globalization, about the governance of immigration and foreign policy, and about the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world. While domestic histories of American nation-building rightly emphasize the diversity of immigrants’ origins, cultures, and religions as they have changed over time, the story of immigrants’ foreign relations reveals more similarities among groups and more continuities over time. The most important continuity emerges from the almost universal human tendency to love and remain attached to...

  7. APPENDIX Suggestions for Further Reading
    (pp. 235-246)