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ERIC Number: ED469939
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Apr
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
The Remaking of America and Immigrants: Old and New.
Waldinger, Roger
This paper discusses controversy over the relevance of the past for understanding immigrant trajectories of today. While one interpretation says that the past and present fundamentally diverge (such that a substantial portion of today's newcomers are unlikely to climb up and into the American social order in the fashion experienced in previous years), another interpretation suggests that the country is not easily rid of the past. This paper disagrees with a suggested construction of the past that is influenced by both presentism and continued reliance on justly influential but intrinsically time-bound interpretations. It asserts that the terms majority, ethnic group, and minority have meant different things over the years, which implies considerable revision in understandings of the distinctiveness of America's encounter with today's versus yesterday's immigrants. Yesterday's immigrants encountered a highly ethnicized majority. They lacked the cultural and intellectual resources needed for a self-conscious ethnic assertion and were linked to organizations that redirected loyalties in other ways. By contrast, today's newcomers enter a society transformed by an earlier civil rights struggle, the results of which democratized and enlarged the civic nation, expanding the understanding of what it means to be American. The paper concludes that today's immigrants are likely to remake the country in ways more fundamental and far-reaching than did their predecessors. (SM)
New York University, Taub Urban Research Center, 4 Washington Square North, New York, NY 10003. Tel: 212-998-7500; Fax: 212-995-3890; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: New York Univ., NY. Taub Urban Research Center.