Immigration and Religion in America



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Paul Harvey

Surveying the books reviewed in the new Journal of American History gives a quick overview of the variety and vitality of American religious history. From the eighteenth-century Moravians, to Catholic feminism, to W. E. B. DuBois, to Holiness/Pentecostalism, to the memory of the Salem witch trials, to religion in the life of George Washington, and much else instead, even a quick scan and assessment of these newer titles suggests continued strength in the field.

Here's a title I was completely unaware of, and haven't seen yet, but looks promising:

Immigration and Religion in America: Comparative and Historical Perspectives. Ed. by Richard Alba, Albert J. Raboteau, and Josh DeWind. (New York: New York University Press, 2009. vi, 407 pp. Cloth, $78.00, ISBN 978-0-8147-0504-9. Paper, $26.00, ISBN 978-0-8147-0505-6.)

Immigration and Religion in America: Comparative and Historical Perspectives

The book pairs comparisons of earlier and more-studied immigrant groups (Italians, Japanese, Jews, and northward-migrating African Americans) with newer immigrant communities (Mexicans, Koreans, Arab Muslims, and Haitians). Each pairing comes with an introduction focusing on the religious history of the groups. Here's a bit more, from the review (access required for History Cooperative):

Several essays stand out. The sociologist David Lopez's "Whither the Flock? The Catholic Church and the Success of Mexicans in America" argues that, unlike the Italian case, "it is difficult to point to any important ways in which the church has facilitated their climb up the ladder of success" for Latino Catholics (p. 71). In "The Shaping of Arab and Muslim Identity in the United States," however, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad shows evidence of Islam facilitating the acculturation of Muslim Arabs—much as Judaism did for Jews—by providing women the opportunity to participate in public life. Elizabeth McAlister and Karen Richman's "Catholic, Vodou, and Protestant: Being Haitians, Becoming American—Religious Pluralism, Immigrant Incorporation, and Transnationalism" illustrates the complicated ways that varied religious traditions and history provide meaning for Haitians in a new land.

Two essays challenge the notion that declining participation in religious rituals means that immigrant religious roots are less important to later generations. Despite the decline of traditional Buddhism among the Japanese, Jane Naomi Iwamura's "Critical Faith: Japanese Americans and the Birth of a New Civil Religion" argues that "what has emerged from the collective experience of war and internment is a faith that is tied to no particular religious tradition but that takes racial-ethnic identity as its starting points" (p. 137). Calvin Goldscheider's "Immigration and the Transformation of American Jews: Assimilation, Distinctiveness, and Community" suggests that for Jews the issue is not how much they have assimilated but "what factors sustain ethnic and religious community" (p. 198). He argues that the economic stratification of education and occupation, built on the demography of the first generation, allows this immigrant group to challenge the assumption that Jews (as a group) have become secularized in America.

1 comments:

US Immigration at: April 8, 2010 at 10:59 PM said...

Religion played a big role in one's history including america. And until this day it still playing it's part and continue to evolve following the modernization.

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