Cultural Pluralism and National Identity

Rebecca Tillett

in American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748626014
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670673 | DOI:
Cultural Pluralism and National Identity

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This essay provides an historical context for considering ethnicity, immigration and American identity. Beginning with early positive cultural identities as found in de Crèvecoeur and de Tocqueville, the author identifies anxieties over the ability of recently arrived immigrants to assimilate in the writings of Benjamin Franklin and in US legislature throughout the late nineteenth century. These fears regarding immigration and assimilation are traced through the twentieth century to 1990s immigration acts and policies which were introduced as an apparent response to a resurgence of nativism. The author, Rebecca Tillett, explores the contours of nativist theories put forward by the likes of Samuel Huntington and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and examines their impact upon government policy. The chapter concludes with a consideration of a very public image of American national identity, in the figure of Private Jessica Lynch, juxtaposed with ‘other’ hidden American identities, Specialist Shoshana Johnson and Private Lori Ann Piestewa.

Keywords: Ethnicity; Immigration; Assimiliation; National Identity; Samuel Huntington; Arthur Schlesinger Jr; Jessica Lynch

Chapter.  7354 words. 

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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