In this portion of the course we shift gears as we move from a broad survey of theoretical approaches towards understanding race into studying the history of the united states through an application of critiques and analysis grounded in the field of ethnic studies. This historical grounding is key for our understanding and resolving present-day inequality, for how we explain ‘what happened’ directly defines our explanation as to ‘why it happened.’
There’s a lot on our table in the coming weeks. To prepare I ask you do the following:
First, if you haven’t already, read Takaki’s introduction. I’ve prepared a short videocast that is in no ways a substitute for what he writes. You can access it here:
Think about how Takaki frames the history of the US, and the questions he asks of it. As we will explore in further detail, consider what it means to think of history as a narrative. How does our approach to history frame the telling of that history? And where is the power in the story?
In this videocast I provide a summary of three approaches to understanding the passage of time. While descriptive in nature my underlying argument is that a linear or cyclical approach to conceptualizing history is an epistemological expression in and of itself.
We’ll continue these discussions around the master narrative/“great man” approach to history throughout the remainder of the semester.
Week 12: Foreigners in their Native Land AND Searching for Gold Mountain
Takaki, “Foreigners in their Native Land”
Takaki, “Searching for Gold Mountain: Strangers From A Different Shore”
Uren, Amanda. “1896-1906: San Francisco’s Chinatown. A vibrant community before the fire.” http://mashable.com/2015/11/10/arnold-genthe-chinatown/#Is0GtR7JmkqR
Latino Americans: Foreigners in Their Own Land (available via Kanopy)
Some questions to consider as you read through these chapters, in brief:
- Continue to discuss how does this history contrast with the dominant/master narrative?
- What are some of the other hidden and overt examples of resistance we encounter in these chapters? Where are there examples of solidarity across cultures? You should be able to identity and discuss early Mexican American organizations, such as the mutualistas or the JMLA, as well as the role Chinese collective associations known as tongs or fongs played.
- What does the Mexican American War and its aftermath signify for Chican@s in the US, according to Takaki? Examine the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and its implications. What rights were to be accorded under the treaty?
- Explain the interest in Chinese laborers, and the restrictions that came to be placed upon them. Why were the Chinese overwhelmingly male? What made this a sought-after population by US employers? Who were the ‘paper sons’ and what impact did the 1906 earthquake have on the Chinese population?
- Takaki’s “Searching for Gold Mountain” chapter occupies a special place in my heart, as it is perhaps the most ‘local’ out of all the chapters in his book. For those living in the Bay Area I encourage you to visit the SF or Oakland Chinatown, or take the ferry to Angel Island and write about it.
For each of Takaki’s chapters I would like you to do the following:
- Tell me something new you learned or found interesting, and why.
- Apply one or more of the concepts we’ve been working upon to the text. For example, you can discuss the changing conceptions of race using racial formation theory, or incorporate intersectionality in an analysis of gender roles, to name but two options.
- Finally, ask a how/why question of the text.
Please remove irrelevant information and add new information as per the corrections. Please add specific information needed on the following prompt. Please use proper citation with the correct format.
Please make sure to answer each question!
ALL STUDENTS PAPERS SUBMITTED WILL BE SCREENED FOR PLAGIARIZED SOURCES VIA “TURNITIN.” ABSOLUTELY NO PLAGIARISM IS ALLOWED.
Please write in your own words. Please write a beautiful, perfect, interesting, strong, powerful, detailed, clear, and critical essay! Show me the tentative argument with good faith efforts.
Please refer to and use all the files that I have uploaded. I am repeating myself here again, you must use all the sources that I have provided in order to complete the paper for my satisfaction.
Please add some details and make it more aligned to the question.
Please be good at putting these concepts into your own words.
Near the end of this multicultural history of the United States, historian Ronald Takaki articulates the thesis and the goal of his book. Citing Gloria Anzaldua’s concept of a borderland, “a place where ’two or more cultures edge each other,”’ he concurs with her that an “inner struggle” to understand the American cultural heritage must take place before Americans can change their troubled society. This understanding “must ultimately be ground in ’unlearning’ much of what we have been told about America’s past and substituting a more inclusive and accurate history of all the peoples of America.” Takaki’s contribution to this goal is a retelling of American history from the point of view of the various ethnic and racial groups who settled here, attempting to see all the “different shores” from which they came as “equal points of departure” in the building of American culture.
What could have become a loose, baggy monster of a project is given form by several structuring elements. The first is an extended metaphor that compares the New World to the wilderness in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a play that opened in 1611 and was based on a contemporary incident involving an English ship that was heading for Virginia but ran aground in the Bermudas. Takaki speculates that the play represented English expansion into the Americas. Caliban, the quasi-human native of the island to which Prospero is exiled and over which he claims sovereignty, becomes a figure for the natives of the New World and later for the Africans brought as slaves. Takaki uses this image to illustrate what he refers to as the “racialization of savagery,” the tendency on the part of white Americans to associate barbarism with dark skin, an attitude that would determine the treatment of black slaves as well as Native American tribes. The image of Caliban is used throughout Takaki’s study to describe the struggles especially of those immigrant groups, including the Chinese as well as African Americans and Native Americans, that could not assimilate into mainstream American society because of racial differences. They were often denigrated in the same terms (savage, lazy, dirty, inferior, treacherous) in order to justify harsh policies toward them, whether of slavery, removal from their land, or restrictions of their immigration and civil rights. This pattern, first established when the English met the Indians, thus repeated itself throughout the next two centuries.
A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America is also structured, though loosely, in a rough historical sequence consisting of four main sections: “Boundlessness,” from discovery through slavery; “Borders,” covering the Market Revolution and western expansion; “Distances,” treating European and Asian immigration; and “Crossings,” a contemplation of America’s dilemmas in the twenty-first century, with the changes in the racial composition of U.S. population and the accompanying questions about who is “American.”
Who is American? In the book’s first section, to trace the English colonists’ attempts to grapple with this question Takaki examines the policies they developed to deal with blacks and indigenous peoples during a time when the country seemed boundless. Questions of race and racism were particularly acute at this time, as the English tried to define themselves in contrast to the indigenous peoples they found in the New World. Yet much of the rhetoric used against the Indians, Takaki shows, was not based on color, at least not initially; it was similar to that being used against the Irish in the period when the English were colonizing Ireland, and for similar reasons of land acquisition. The pattern Takaki establishes in this first section has social, political, and economic ramifications for the rest of the book, for the pattern repeated itself in different forms with each new immigrant group that arrived in the new country.
Takaki cites letters and contemporary English accounts that found parallels between the Indians and the Irish. Both groups were seen as uncivilized because they were unchristian and unlettered and failed to bring their land under cultivation and make it more productive. Capitalist patterns of ownership and productivity were integrated into the English definitions of civility and morality, as Takaki has shown in an earlier work, Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (1979). The English idea that the Irish and the Indians…