Chapter

Inbetween Peoples: Race, Nationality, and the “New-Immigrant” Working Class

James Barrett

in Colored White

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233416
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930803 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233416.003.0009
Inbetween Peoples: Race, Nationality, and the “New-Immigrant” Working Class

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This chapter addresses the racial position of eastern and southern European immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, finding it to lie “inbetween” full whiteness and the fiercer oppressions inflicted on people of color. The development of racial awareness and attitudes and an increasingly racialized worldview among new immigrant workers themselves are described. The chapter also aims to destabilize modern categories of race and ethnicity and to capture the confusion, inbetween-ness, and flux in the minds of native-born Americans and the immigrants themselves. Americanization was never just about nation but was always about race and nation. “White men's unions” often seemed the best path from inbetween-ness to white manhood, but they also erected some of the most significant obstacles. The chapter then moves from the racial categorization of new immigrants to their own racial consciousness. Both “becoming American” and “becoming white” could imply coercive threats to European national identities.

Keywords: inbetween-ness; European immigrants; Americanization; whiteness; racial awareness; immigrant workers; ethnicity; Americans

Chapter.  12550 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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