Welcome to Migration and Ethnicity on H-Net

he academic study of migration and ethnicity has historically been spread under various other fields and headings. Much like migrants themselves, studies of the effects and meanings of migration have made their homes under fields as varied as history, sociology, literature, economics, psychology, and others. However, as our understanding of the issues involved in migration increases, and as more and more people come to experience the effects of intercultural encounters in some way, either as migrants themselves or as members of a community that has its numbers increased by people of different cultural backgrounds, it is becoming clear that the relationship between migration and ethnicity needs to be studied in a broader, more interdisciplinary manner. The issues involved are simply too numerous and complex to be understood from one viewpoint alone. Why do people migrate? An economist might tell you it is because economic prospects are better somewhere else, while a sociologist might say it is because certain social pressures in the migrant's homeland became unbearable. Then again, an anthropologist might point out that in certain cultures, moving around is the norm rather than an anomaly, and a historian might confirm that, indeed, the histories of most cultures involve migrations of some significance, and for reasons that often cannot be explained by one factor alone. Sometimes peopleís movements are not even voluntary, as those subjected to slavery and forced relocation for other reasons can testify.

hat unifies all movements of people from one place to another, then, is not necessarily their causes, but rather the inevitable experiences of cultural difference that will take place once the migrants arrive and try to build lives in their new homes. Should they assimilate as quickly as possible, or is it better to try to retain a separate culture? Is there even a single, identifiable culture to assimilate into in their new home? If there is, will newcomers be allowed to take part in that culture as full members, or will there be segregation and discrimination based on racial and cultural differences? Of course, these issues have been debated and contested, often violently, for as long as there have been human migrations, but here at the end of the twentieth century, with the sheer increase in the number of people on earth and the rapid developments in technology enabling communication between these people, inquiry and debate inspired by intercultural encounters have increased tremendously. With the concomitant rise in the number of migrants in the world, moreover, these inquiries and debates seem particularly pertinent today, and as both scholars and non-academics grapple with applying lessons of the past to help guide us through the future, we are coming to the understanding that many of the issues that face migrants today are the same as those domestic minorities have struggled with for decades and centuries.

-Netís discussion networks have been excellent forums for these debates since the inception of the organization in the early nineties. Hidden away in the message logs of the various networks is a great amount of information, and this website is intended to bring some of that information out for utilization. The bulk of discussion threads presented on this site are from H-Ethnicís logs. H-ETHNIC encourages scholarly discussion of ethnic history; immigration and emigration studies and makes available diverse bibliographical, research, and teaching aids. H-Ethnic's moderated discussion list enables historians to discuss with colleagues their research interests, teaching methods and views on the state of historiography. It should be noted, however, that a number of related threads from other lists are also included. One of the strengths of H-Net is its interdisciplinarity and its subscribersí wide range of specialties and interests, qualities that are crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the issues involved. It is furthermore our hope and intention to keep building this site with contributions from its users, and we have therefore included a section for comments and responses from you.

ecause of the breadth and interdisciplinarity of the topic we have elected to break the site down into several pages that cover different aspects pertaining to the study of migration and ethnicity. On each of these pages, which you can reach either by clicking on the buttons on the left or on the highlighted text below, you will find discussion threads and scholarly essays dealing with various ideas and issues from different angles.

n our terminology page you will find material dealing with how the study of migration and ethnicity is and has been conceptualized over the years, including threads on the terms "melting pot" and "model minority."

nother page deals with some of the political, legal, and economic issues particularly relevant to the field. See for example all the debates sparked by Californiaís Proposition 187, and a related discussion of whether European immigrants to the United States earlier in the nationís history were more eager to assimilate than some of the more recent immigrant groups from other parts of the world.

closely related page treats issues of identity formation. How does ethnicity relate to personal and group identity? Who gets to decide what names and labels we use for each other? What, if anything, is gained by identifying with a particular ethnic group? A growing field of study looks at "whiteness" as an ethnic category. On this page there are several discussion threads dealing with names and identifiers, including recurring debates over the use of the term "Euro-American."

f course, awareness of cultural differences is not something entirely new. Under a page we have called ethnicity in history we have collected several discussion threads that deal with ethnicity in a historical perspective, including one on nativism and anti-nativism in the American Guilded Age, and another on the history of ethnic Japanese in Brazil.

ast but not least, on our media and teaching tools page, we have harvested some good bibliographies, course suggestions and syllabi. See also our links page for a list of annotated Internet links to sites providing useful information on the study of migration and ethnicity.