Immigration, Religion, and Ethnic Relations in U.S. History: Immigration, Religion, and Ethnic Relations in U.S. History
Hanson, R. Scott
In his classic The Uprooted, historian Oscar Handlin said: “Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.” Among all the concerns of every new immigrant group, establishing a place of worship is often of primary importance so that it may sustain and nurture the transplanted community. As successive waves of different immigrant groups brought different traditions to America, the increasing diversity would have certain consequences and directly affect ethnic relations around the country. As obvious as these three points may seem, however, they are rarely treated effectively in connection with one another — a fact that has distorted perception of the past and present. The recent hysteria and media frenzy over immigration is nothing new: reexamining in this light the mythical “good old days” when everyone and everything supposedly was more homogenous and stable, we may discern certain patterns in U.S. history. Intended as an introduction to American immigration history and American religious history, this interdisciplinary course aims to clarify and stress the linkage of these themes and, further, to address the factors and issues involved with living in a pluralist society that, to some extent, has been defined literally by immigration and religious freedom. After introducing the course themes and building a framework with a discussion of terminology and concepts, we will delve into a roughly chronological history of the major (im)migrant ethnic groups by religion up to the present (also treating Native Americans and African Americans as migrants), and then begin to make better sense of our topic. Combining methods and sources from social and cultural history, we will employ a variety of texts (including film, music, and a multimedia CD-ROM).