New Perspectives on the Field’s United States Origins
As ‘ethnic’ history — the nation-to-ethnic-ghetto version of migrant strategies — came to include the process of migration and the socialization, the ‘roots’ of the field were still traced to the Chicago School and Oscar Handlin. European scholarship in the initial stages centred on emigration to North America and followed us approaches. I discuss, to the 1950s, European and Canadian epistemologies of the field and briefly refer to research in other parts of the world. The essays discuss neglected, theoretically and conceptually complex origins of migration studies and history in the us: (1) the Chicago Women’s School of Sociology of Hull House reformers and women economists from the 1880s and the cluster of interdisciplinary scholars at Columbia University (Franz Boas et al.); (2) scholars at the University of Minnesota who included the migrants’ societies of origin; as well as (3) scholars in California (Bogardus, social distance scale) and (4) British Columbia who recovered data collected in the 1920s and read them in modern multicultural perspectives. Against these many threads the emphasis by Chicago scholars, E. Park in particular, and O. Handlin on disorganization and ‘marginal men’ are assessed.
The Columbia University Scholars’ Transcultural Approach to Migrants
I, first, discuss the ethical and scholarly bases of approaches ‘emancipated’ from mainstream societal discourses. Next, I reinsert into the genealogy of us migration history’s development several ‘early’ research clusters or schools from the 1880s with a focus on other people than white western and northern Europeans. Third, I argue that, in a subsequent phase, such approaches coalesced around Franz Boas and what I call the Columbia University/ Barnard School of interdisciplinary research from the 1890s to the 1950s. Both men and women were part of this group working in the spatial-intellectual context of New York City’s Ellis Island, Greenwich Village, and Harlem. In addition, a network of cooperative scholarly transnational relationships emerged esp. to Polish post-1918 scholarship. I will focus on the Columbia-Barnard scholars’ research on (a) European immigrants and exiles, (b) Mexican migration to and life-ways in the us, and (c) African American (more precisely: ‘African-us’) and African-Caribbean cultures. To emphasise agency and networks I will emphasize individual scholars’ contributions and connections. The question, why this scholarship was ignored or (deliberately?) forgotten, remains latent but any suggestion for an answer can be made.