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Debating American Identity
Southwestern Statehood and Mexican Immigration
By Linda C. Noel
264 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / 2014
Cloth (978-0-8165-3045-8) [s]
Related Interest
  - History
  - Latin American Studies
  - Borderlands Studies

In the early 1900s, Teddy Roosevelt, New Mexico governors Miguel Antonio Otero and Octaviano Larrazolo, and Arizona legislator Carl Hayden—along with the voices of less well-known American women and
A poignant reminder that contemporary debates over immigration—and racial animus they continually expose—are the living legacy of past struggles for inclusion.

—Pacific Historical Review

Noel aptly explains the four themes of exclusionism, assimilation, marginalization, and pluralism as a method to control immigration's effect on national identity during a time in which the United Sates entered the world stage in the Spanish American War and World War I.

—New Mexico Historical Review

Noel's summary of national debates over the status of Mexican Americans as citizens is succinct and accurate, and her specific regional focus in the early parts of the book is a particularly welcome addition and a true contribution to the literature on Americans of Mexican origin.

—American Historical Review

A significant contribution to the studies of identity, race, southwestern history, and Mexican American history

—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Usually, scholars discuss exclusionism versus assimilationism, but Noel's presentation of the marginalizationist and pluralist approaches are new and significant.

—Patrick D. Lukens, author of A Quiet Victory for Latino Rights: FDR and the Controversy Over Whiteness

This is a fresh and original approach to the literature about the political and civil rights of the Mexican-origin population in the United States. It is a refreshing visit to the evolution of discussions of American identity in this period, and how history seems to have links to the present.

—Richard Griswold del Castillo, author of Chicano San Diego: Cultural Space and the Struggle for Social Justice

men—promoted very different views on what being an American meant. Their writings and speeches contributed to definitions of American national identity during a tumultuous and dynamic era. At stake in these heated debates was the very meaning of what constituted an American, the political boundaries for the United States, and the legitimacy of cultural diversity in modern America.

In Debating American Identity, Linda C. Noel examines several nation-defining events—the proposed statehood of Arizona and New Mexico, the creation of a temporary worker program during the First World War, immigration restriction in the 1920s, and the repatriation of immigrants in the early 1930s. Noel uncovers the differing ways in which Americans argued about how newcomers could fit within the nation-state, in terms of assimilation, pluralism, or marginalization, and also the significance of class status, race, and culture in determining American identity.

Noel shows not only how the definition of American was contested but also how the economic and political power of people of Mexican descent, their desire to incorporate as Americans or not, and the demand for their territory or labor by other Americans played an important part in shaping decisions about statehood and national immigration policies. Debating American Identity skillfully shows how early twentieth-century debates over statehood influenced later ones concerning immigration; in doing so, it resonates with current discussions, resulting in a well-timed look at twentieth-century citizenship.

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