Race & America's Immigrant Press: How the Slovaks Were Taught to Think Like White People (Hardback)Robert M. Zecker (author)
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Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation
Number of pages: 362
Weight: 701 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
Donna R. Gabaccia, Director, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota
If, as Benedict Anderson argues, newspapers play a central role in the forging of national identities, Zecker's study of Slovak-American newspapers demonstrates that in the U.S., immigrant newspapers forged an imagined community of hyphenated Americans who understood themselves as white. The book's comprehensive analysis of the Slovak and Russian press's coverage of lynching and the U.S.'s imperial war in the Philippines, as well as minstrel show jokes, commentaries on Jews, Asiatic Magyar despots, African "cannibals," and Italian and Mexican "bandits" brings together the insights from scholars of ethnic survival, European imperialism, Orientalism, and whiteness studies. While maintaining empathy for struggling, impoverished and "not quite white" Slavic immigrants," Zecker reminds us that not all the culture that immigrants brought with them to America was worthy of celebration, and that being the target of racial prejudice rarely leads to an opposition to racism or a rejection of whiteness. Instead, he shows that for many Slavs, acculturation to the U.S. meant exchanging old-world prejudices against Jews and Gypsies for the New world's Black/White binary.
Rebecca Hill, Program in American Studies, Kennesaw State University
The many-sided brilliance of this book provides a model for the study of how new immigrants learned about the U.S. racial system. It roots its story on both sides of the Atlantic, reads the immigrant press carefully, and demonstrates how often and tragically the production of racial ideology lay at the heart of media, popular culture, and social relations.
David Roediger (University of Illinois) is the author of "How Race Survived U.S. History"
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