Category History

Australian politics explainer: the White Australia policy

By Benjamin T. Jones The Conversation is running a series of explainers on key moments in Australian political history, looking at what happened, its impact then, and its relevance to politics today. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly claimed that Australia is the world’s most successful multicultural nation. While the sentiment has bipartisan support today, […]

Stitched Together: The Rajah Quilt

It’s taken me a while to appreciate the art of the quilt. When I was young, I associated quilts with infants, women’s groups, and the olden days—none of which interested me very much. Quilts didn’t feature prominently in my family, though two stand out now. My mother made a quilt for her grandchild, my brother’s […]

A letter to my brothers: our ancestors defied borders, and so must we

For my brothers, who know our family, but few of our stories. Dear boys, We are neither refugees nor their children. We are their grandchildren. The first time I learned the proper noun, the verb ‘Partition’, I was five. Dad nestled a plate of sliced apples between us on the couch and allowed me to […]

“A place in the generous heart of America”: Reflecting on New York’s immigrant history through Tyler Anbinder’s City of Dreams

I moved to New York City seven months ago, and I’ve spent the last several weeks lugging an extra heavy bag onto the subway during my commutes. Besides my laptop, the main culprit is a 735-page hardcover book – Tyler Anbinder’s City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York. When I manage […]

Shaping and Reshaping Identity on Immigrant and Refugee Receptivity

Europe is in a “polycrisis.” That was the theme of a workshop I recently attended, along with colleagues from Kennesaw State University, at the Europäische Akademie Otzenhausen, in Germany. “Polycrisis” in this case refers to the challenges faced by European Union (EU) member states, including financial problems, terrorist threats, and, in particular, the increase in […]

Making a New Home: Olveston, Linden, and the Jewish Museum of Australia

In 2002 I visited Poland for the first time. I took an overnight train from Berlin and arrived in Katowice on a freezing November morning. The skies were overcast, buses belched smoke, and the ground was covered in muddy ice and snow. In other words, it was miserable. And yet, as I made my way […]

Colonial Returns: Tom Roberts’s Coming South

Countless nineteenth-century travelogues were written by Britons visiting the settler colonies: Charles Dickens wrote about his time in North America, Anthony Trollope described his travels in Australasia and South Africa, Rudyard Kipling wrote about all of the above. Far less common and less celebrated are recorded journeys from the other perspective: Americans or Australians travelling […]

Jade Cages: Visiting Angel Island

I’m standing in the U.S. Immigration Station on Angel Island, one of our nation’s first immigration detention centers. Growing up on the east coast of the United States, I hadn’t even heard of Angel Island until I decided to write my undergraduate history thesis on the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. In a way, the […]

Review of ‘Homesickness: An American History’ by Susan J. Matt

By Sara Burnett In a nation that’s been around for over 200 years, a surprising number of Americans still trace their ancestry to the countries where their families immigrated from before they came to the U.S.  Among the many persistent myths of U.S. immigration, is the one of eternal optimism and relentless enthusiasm despite the […]

Immigration Stories: The more things change, the more they stay the same

I recently had a chance to read a book that I’ve been wanting to dive into for years. Immigration Stories, edited by David A. Martin and Peter H. Schuck, is part of the Stories Series, which relates the political and historical context behind some of the more important case law in a variety of different […]