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 Relations takes 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 Relations casts a fresh eye on a compelling and controversial topic.
Donna R. Gabaccia is professor of history and the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair and Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Her many books include We Are What We Eat and Immigration and American Diversity.
"Gabaccia's book is a rare treat for immigration scholars. She takes the hackneyed idea that U.S. immigration policy reflects U.S. domestic policy exclusively and turns it on its head, demanding that readers reframe immigration debates as U.S. foreign relations and, more specifically, trade relations. . . . The book would be an excellent teaching tool to explain how to challenge what scholars assume that they know."--Choice
"By deftly weaving the stories of individuals and families into her discussion--not so much as illustrations of a generalized story as the basic elements of this story--Gabaccia has opened new windows onto the history of American immigration."--Orm Øverland, Journal of American History
"[T]he book's expansive connections and extensive research signal its author as an impressive senior scholar in the field."--Deborah Cohen, Diplomatic History
"No one has done more than Donna Gabaccia to develop a global framework for understanding the history of American immigration. In this book, she brings together her earlier work on international migration with a new interest in American foreign relations. The result is a bold, sweeping, and provocative recasting of America's encounter with immigrants past and present."--Gary Gerstle, author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century
"This innovative fusion of social and political history surveys the interaction between U.S. immigration, national politics, and foreign relations from colonial times to the present and from an international perspective. Gabaccia's erudition, lucid prose, and insights illuminate a fundamental process of modern American and global history with a subtlety and a sharpness that few can match."--Jose C. Moya, Barnard College
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Isolated or Independent? American Immigration before 1850 24
Chapter 2: Empire and the Discovery of Immigrant Foreign Relations, 1850-1924 70
Chapter 3: Immigration and Restriction: Protection in a Dangerous World, 1850-1965 122
Chapter 4: Immigration and Globalization, 1965 to the Present 176
Conclusion: "The Inalienable Right of Man to Change His Home and Allegiance" 222
Appendix: Suggestions for Further Reading 235