Kevin Kenny begins by talking about Kerby Millers work on Irish Immigrants. Miller wanted to know why the Irish saw their emigration as more of an involuntary exile than a personal choice. He then brings in Donald Akensen who disagreed with Miller’s thesis. Essentially Kenny is going over the historiography of this topic and keeping us up to date on the state of the field. Many critics of Miller argued that the Irish were not actually exiled at all, discrediting his argument on a false basis. Miller’s argument wasn’t about the reality of the Irish, merely how they interpreted their situation. I’m not saying that Miller is necessarily correct, only that these critics are criticizing something that he didn’t argue. One very reasonable argument against his thesis is that women were quite empowered by their change in lifestyle. After this he discusses theories whiteness and labor. The Irish were by far the most disadvantaged whites, but they clung to whiteness as their last tool for success. There has been a lot of debate over this whiteness thesis, some say it isn’t proven by sources well, others say that it is the only way to explain what happened over time. This sparked more debate over what race, racism, and class meant at the time. The final point is on Irish diaspora. There are two main theories, transnational and cross-national. He uses these two methods and applies Miller’s and other’s works in this new framework.
Roger Daniels begins with a description of how Liberty Island represents acceptance and Ellis Island rejection. On the west coast, Angel Island served primarily as a detention facility for asians. Its origins were one of the army bases for holding prisoners of war and it seems that in practice its purpose stayed the same. Angel Island was poorly built. They used wood in a damp area causing it to be unsanitary and unsafe. There was no janitorial staff and the water supply became contaminated. This was hardly a new Ellis island created for welcoming in new americans. The chinese men in particular were treated poorest to the point where they had a seperate dining hall with worse food and conditions. The chinese were not the only ones there though, there were also Japanese, Koreans, and south asians. In contrast to popular belief that the chinese were passive victims of oppression, Charles Mccain argued that they were quite active in resisting their oppression. They hated the discriminatory practices put in place to abuse them and put forth many grievances within the courts. They were successful as civil actors to the point that the children of chinese men were given american citizenship. They used this to bring other Chinese into the country, some honestly, others for the right price. These extra sons became known as “paper sons.” It was difficult to get into the country, many chinese had to go through prisonlike interrogations which could last for months. Women, for the most part, were not allowed in because of a statute that restricted the number of immigrants who could not apply for citizenship severely. After this history Daniels goes on to talk about the art and poetry created in the abandoned institution along with the institutionalized racism from that era. Even “progressive scholars” saw asians as lesser beings, or “a horde of alien scabs.” He then switches to the historiography and how it effected ideas of racism. He mentions a few names I recognize such as Handlin in terms of general immigration history, and brings up others when he talks about the emergence of asian american studies.