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Migration History as a Transcultural History of Societies

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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.

Affiliations: 1: Salzburg, Austria, c/o the journal editors


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