Talking History – November 13, 2017

In this talking history, Professor Steven Harris spoke about his own research on Areoflot History and how it contributed to late socialism within the Soviet Union. Aeroflot was the first and only Soviet Union airline. Professor Harris started his research in the economic archives in the Moscow region. He focuses on state archives, looks into the passenger experiences, and what it was like to fly Aeroflot. Professor Harris stressed the importance of looking at sources in a variety of different ways, and did this by studying the letters of complaints that the Soviet Union strongly encouraged, creating the first ideas of socialism in the Soviet Union. He discovered a Russian journalist who kept the letters of complaints for which he was going to publish in Russia to exploit Aeroflot with their inability to meet the expectations of what they should be providing to the state. The expectations that the State had with the Soviet Union changed with time. When this journalist came to America he donated the letters to the Library of Congress. Professor Harris then went in to the importance of sources and getting those sources peer reviewed. He actually spoke about the conferences he organized around the world, where scholars from everywhere get together and share their own research and provide help to others. At the end of this talking history Professor Harris stressed on the importance of sources, and how throughout writing and researching, peer reviews are necessary when bringing everything together.

Twenty Years of Irish American Historiography and No Lamps

Kevin Kenny’s book review on Kerby Milllers; Emigrants and Exiles, which goes into detail of Irish Amerian historiography. Kenny studies how Miller determined why the Irish were the only group of migrants to feel exiled out of their country. He also points out that Irish historiography has only recently been studied properly. Kenny brings up Donald Akensons thesis on Irish migration and mobility through Austria, New Zealand, and Canada and how this pre-migration culture contributed to this groups progress abroad, concluding that the Miller thesis was inaccurate interpretation of the culture background of these migrants. Kenny also brings up other historians research on the migration of Irish settlers in other parts of the world and how their success there does not explain why Millers thesis about the pre-migration culture and why the Irish thrived so poorly in America. Miller influenced many other historians to study the path of this ethnic groups life. Not only in America but also in other countries. Miller addresses the “whiteness thesis” in his book, this is where white people would experience racism before being made “white” or American white. Kenny ends his review by pointing out the different approaches to Irish American historiography and migration. No Lamps Were Lit for Them: Angel Island and the Historiography of Asian American Immirgaiton, by Roger Daniels is about the history of Angel Island, and the different migrant groups that went through it to gain citizenship. Mainly Asian immigrants passed through this Island before becoming American citizens. Many of these people also gave false names in order to gain access into America. Daniel uses records, papers, census to find the historiography of this group and the difficulties that they went through to get into the country.

Pegler-Gordon Reviews

The first review on Anna Pegler-Gordon’s In Sight of America: Photography and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy, Colin John Davis analyzes the production of media and its impact on racial knowledge. Davis goes on to discuss the books premise and how photography produces race as a visualizable fact. The second book review by Tara Browner analyzes how photography impacted immigration policy through Pegler-Gordons book. Photography played a major role in how immigrants were viewed, not only to the people of America, but also how they were view by the government. Browner also notes that photography opens up a new form of documentation of the U.S. immigrant experience. The final book review done by Andreas Killen, argues that Pegler-Gordon’s book shows how photography skewed the publics opinion on immigrants, and how it influenced government policies on immigration. Killen discusses specific acts and laws that impacted immigration in America. Killen also discusses how photography also had a impact on the documentation of immigrants. Each of these reviews discusses the different influences that photography had on U.S. immigration discussed within Pegler-Gordon’s book, and throughout each review a different understanding of this impact is discussed by each person.


Restrictions on immigration have always been and continues to be an issue to this day. Race, gender, and class all play a role in the labor market. U.S. governmental policies and agencies have created restrictions on immigration for centuries. Deirdre Moloney goes into specifics of why there was such an opposition of immigrants especially in regards to labor. Issues with the hiring of illegal immigrants for lower wages not only impacts the demand for labor but also impacts the economy. Deportation was the answer to this problem, and the government had a focus on fixing it. Moloney notes the difference between exclusion and deportation and how the two issues can be confused when dealing with immigration policies. The policies that have been made represent the racial insecurities that people hold and are what is influencing laws even today.

The Italian American

In “The Italian American Table: Food, Family, and Community in New York”, the invention of Italian food culture in America is introduced, giving food a role the identity of these immigrants. Simone Cinotto’s goes into the role that food played in the community, and how it created a market in food trade in the Italian immigrant economy. Italian immigrants that gathered around communities in New York City centered their lives around food. This whole group of immigrants used food to create their identity in America. “Not only has food been the most eloquent symbol of collective identity for Italian Americans throughout memoirs, literature, poetry, and the visual arts, but generations of social workers, sociologists, anthropologists, and other observers have also described the way eating becomes an act of self-identification and pride for Italians and an occasion for asserting cultural and political claims,” (2). Cinotto’s is claiming that food connects everything to everyone. Food is the foundation of not only a culture but also an identity.

History in a New Millennium

Over the past decade, things have grown and changed. From technological advancements, to social changes, the world is constantly evolving. “History in a New Millennium,” goes into the argument of whether or not the methods in which history has been documented is enough to justify the truth of that event. A trail was held in order to unfold these claims of whether of not historical evidence is accurate or not. The case focused around the Holocaust, and whether or not the Holocaust actually occurred, justifying this with the inability to trust eyewitnesses from the actual event. Nazi records were nearly impossible to decipher. Leaving no concrete proof of their efforts to whip out the entire Jewish race. One argument a scholar made towards the justification of the holocaust was the acknowledgement of the event from millions of people around the world. But with this justification comes skepticism from those who question the authenticity of historical truth. Everything is an interpretation, and not everything holds the truth, but, for those who get stuck in the rabbit hole on whether or not all interpretations of history are true or false, there is no way of those people grasping a sense of reality. But, with the new developing forms of communication, i.e. Internet, access to historical records are available to almost anyone. The Internet opened a wide range of new approaches to historical research and development. Teaching history has transformed as well with Internet. More information is readily available for teachers and students, which also changes the curriculum. More information, more studies.

Selling the East in the American South

South Asian Americans were recognized as some of the latest groups of people to migrate to America. This migrant group experienced not only hatred but also unequal treatment, in work, and in social settings. Many of these South Asian immigrants moved into neighboring cities, i.e. Muslim immigrants, with common ethnicities and backgrounds all up and down the West and East Coast. Due to the lack of historical evidence it is hard to understand the reasoning behind Bengali Muslim peddler migration. Vivek Bald first studies what interest Bengali peddlers have in American, and then goes on to study archival sources, along with; birth record, ship logs, ect.

Muslim migrants from India were able to establish a peddler network throughout the East Coast by selling a range of “Oriental goods,”(35). Items like silk, and embroidered cotton were considered to be exotic and uncommon among most classes, and over time devolved into higher-class goods. Although, due to the mass amounts of these people immigrating to America in the late nineteenth century, many Americans felt an economic and cultural threat, leading to the creation of many anit-immigration acts, including The Immigration and Nationality Act (also known as the Hart-Celler Immigration Act) of 1965. The success of the Bengali Muslim peddlers, and Punjabi migrants came from the demand for “Oriental goods.” These migrants moved throughout South America because there was a demand for these new, elite items. This xenophobia that Americans portrayed towards these Bengali Muslims, and Punjabi migrants was seemingly almost nonexistent if studied closer. With that said, there was almost a sense of acceptance the Americans had towards these immigrants because they had a product that the Americans could benefit from. At and economic stand point these migrants were ahead of the game and benefited from their product.

Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration & A Part and Apart

In “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration,” Adam Goodman starts off his essay with a quote by John F. Kennedy from his book “A Nation of Immigrants,” that goes into a simplified definition of the nation of America and its people. America is defined as a melting pot, the people that live within this melting pot have immigrated to America creating it. Goodman brings up Oscar Handlin’s, The Uprooted, and how European immigration and assimilation is what made America. The dominance that European immigrants hold over all American immigration gave them a sense of privilege and authority. But, with recent studies historians and scholars have been proving that Americas nation of immigrants is only a myth. Scholars now focus more on all the different diverse groups of people that moved to the U.S. The lack of attention towards all the different races is why the American image is so skewed. Many scholars today not only study specific topics about different races but everything included in that culture. Allowing for a better understanding of that race/groups impact on the American nation. With this scholars conclude that America is not a nation of immigrants but it is a nation of migrants.

In the second reading by Erica Lee’s essay; “A Part and Apart”, there is a clear disagreement when it comes to the study of American immigration. Many scholars have different views on how to teach immigration in America. Lee talks about two historians; George Sanchez and Rudi Vecoli, and their opposing views on immigration in America. The argument takes on whether or not European history is more relevant toward American immigration history or is Latin, and Asian history more important? There are many different views on what should be the main focus but overall if it’s not a matter of opinion shouldn’t all history be included?

More -Trans less -National, Globalizing Migration Stories

In “More Trans-Less National,” Mathew F. Jacobson focuses on transnationalism, and how the migration people to America and throughout the world have an effect on the economy and country. We have this idea that we are the only nation of immigrants, but, within this Nation people migrate. Whether that is seasonally, ect people move in and out of countries all for the same purpose, money. Some multinational corporations have profited more than countries because of their locations throughout the world. In, Globalizing Migration Histories? by Bruno Ramirez, Globalization is what Ramirez stresses to show that immigration and migration are important throughout the world. It is what molds our worlds economy. People migrate from one country to the next in search of work, because they are able to benefit their economy and the economy of that country.

The Invention of Ethnicity in the United States & Race, Nation, Culture in Recent Immigration Studies

In, “The Invention of Ethnicity in the United States,” by Kathleen Neils Conzen, David A. Gerber, Ewa Morawska, George E. Pozzetta, and Rudolph J. Vecoli, mass immigration is considered a persistent theme of American history, but scholars have emphasized on the resistance that immigrants had towards Americanization. The cultural and social changes that immigrant’s fall into when they assimilate to a new country shifts; but when immigrants move without the sole purpose of integration groups are formed and ethnic Americans become on of a kind. Different ethnic social groups form in cities, creating the rise of ethnic movements within these cities. These movements are what started the study of ethnicity as a form of human collectivity in America. Some studies define ethnic groups as interest groups. The people who hold the same ideas and values gather and create their own identity in the New World. This concept and invention of ethnicity also teaches us how immigration created and changed the American society as a whole. “Race, Nation, Culture in Recent Immigration Studies,” by George J. Sanchez, discusses contemporary issues regarding immigration and race. Once sweatshops were discovered the quest for equal and fair working conditions was formed. The working conditions that these different immigrant groups were working in were unfair and inhuman. Especially within Latin and Asian communities, immigrants rights were taken away, and in some cases were stripped of their American identity if identified as an illegal immigrant. This reading goes into different stories about the findings of sweatshops and of labor exploitation of illegal workers and how these findings are what led to civil rights cases. Race and immigration in America are defined separately, but in American history the two have gone hand and hand. The history behind immigration in American, and the history behind race in America come together creating this one central important understanding of justice and equality in America.