Nation of Migrants – Goodman

Goodman. “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration.” Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 34, no. 4, 2015, p. 7., Accessed 27 Aug. 2017.

In his article, Adam Goodman lays out a few clear reasons as to why the intentional way in which The United States has created an identity as a nation of immigrants and perpetuated it through education is an inadequate historical representation of who we are as America. His main arguments stem from the fact that US National Identity has been cultivated and intentionally designed to use words such as “immigrant,” “melting pot,” “assimilation,” all to attempt to recognize diversity in America’s growth as a nation. These words are problematic, however, by not including migratory patterns, native people groups, and any type of cultural preservation. Throughout the article, Goodman notes how important words are both in fields of study and to individuals. He also notes that in the midst of reevaluating the United State’s history of immigration, we must also acknowledge that the subject matter is not solely historical but also political, cultural, social, and economical. Even though there are many different reviews/articles/journals/studies written on immigration and migration, I think one clear point that Goodman makes is that one way migration- those that would most likely be defined as immigrants– is valued in America more than any other migratory flow. This is a dangerous line however because much like legal status or personal identity, National identity is not fixed and entire groups or nations (Goodman specifically mentions Sweden and Mexico while also alluding to the US) will not be either.

I think that as we take a migration-based approach to our research, we have even recently seen that Native American groups are migratory and have been excluded throughout our preliminary research. Similarly, the large apostolic population here migrated from Illinois and Iowa. We will continue looking into why people moved but also want to investigate what type of role the Midwest in general has played in the Nation’s migratory history. Towards the end of the article, Goodman notes that deep and difficult research is “essential to understanding the experiences, motivations and decisions of migrants, and their diverse reasons for migrating.” I believe that keeping this type of interdisciplinary mindset on hand will greatly benefit our research throughout the semester.


Some Questions and Ideas to further my research:

What is American Exceptionalism? How does “us vs. them” mentality play into that?

Define: temporal, geographic, and political boundaries

Native American’s were excluded for much of America’s history as a migratory group, but there are many ethnic groups dispersed throughout America. Have these different groups been taken into consideration in a different way? What factors allow(ed) for some Native groups to be privileged over others? How can we take Stevens County’s rich Native American History into account during this project?

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