"I Know All about Emma Lazarus": Nationalism and Its Contradictions in Congressional Rhetoric of Immigration Restriction

Essay Excerpt

This article will examine how the nationalist rhetoric of politicians connected with the broader themes of transnationalism and will assess the resulting policies. I pay special attention to the way the oppositional concepts of nationalism and transnationalism have been dealt within the past by historians and anthropologists, how concepts that emerged in the 19th century still play a role in public discourse and public policy today, and the degree to which these historical concepts have changed. At the same time, the contemporary congressional debate also needs to be understood in the context of both newer transnationalist scholarship and older, "pluralist" thought. The latter, still the reigning school among historians and political scientists, represents the United States as a unified nation-state containing a multiplicity of cultures (Walzer 1982). My analysis will underline that neither pluralist nor transnationalist scholars have sufficiently grappled with the revival of nationalist and restrictionist rhetoric. In particular,it will highlight the relevance of historical precedents in the current movement, something largely overlooked by both transnationalist and pluralist scholarship.  (Schneider, 83)

About the Author

Schneider is a Lectureer at the University of Illinois. Her areas of specialization are the United States, 19th Century Immigrant and Labor History. 

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