Monday, February 13, 2012
Re-evaluating European Immigration or Rather, Migration...
On Friday, February 10th, History Connected presented the school day seminar Transnational Migration since the Late-Nineteenth Century. The day was spent investigating the migration patterns of different ethnic Europeans and their reasoning for traveling to the United States and other parts of the world.
Teachers were presented with a new thinking regarding immigration to America's shores; or as it should be said, American migration, both to and from the shores Ellis Island and Angel's Island. The lecture, presented by Professor Blower from Boston University, was at times eye opening. Through personal stories, Professor Blower was able make the immigrants story more tangible and relateable.
Professor Blower presented a different perspective on the reasoning for European migration. Most Americans, history teachers included, tend to think of the "new wave" of immigration as this...
But Professor Blower opened our eyes to another way of thinking about the "new wave"... this time as migration rather than immigration.
America has constructed a story on immigration, focusing more on those who stayed rather than those who left. Although I knew many immigrants returned to their country of origin, I did not know the shear number of migrants who left the "Land of Opportunity" for greener pastures.
As a product of those who chose to stay in America rather than return home and face persecution and economic strife I found it surprising that so many Europeans moved on for different opportunities.
Next year when I teach my immigration unit I will be sure to introduce the topic not as one of stagnant immigration but of fluid migration patterns. Rather than focusing on those who stayed in America, I will now make sure to highlight those who left.
(Stieglitz photo: The Steerage, 1907)