Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

Immigration and race in the United States

Posted by thuicc on April 7, 2006

There’s a post over at the Savage Minds anthropology blog that discusses some issues related to the idea that the United States is an immigrant’s dream. Kerim Friedman (who teaches at National Donghua University) argues that

The reason immigrants tend to do well in America is not because America is a more welcoming society, but because we already have a permanent racial underclass in our African American population! (And, to some extent, Latinos and Native Americans as well.)

He contrasts this situation to European countries where the underclass is made up of immigrants. There are a lot of interesting comments in response to Friedman’s post, including some discussion over the idea that a lot of immigrants in the U.S. (particularly undocumented immigrants–what many people call “illegal immigrants”) do work that American’s don’t want to do. As Ozma writes,

This argument—that undocumented immigrants do work that “no one else wants” or “no one else is available to perform” masks both extant forms of institutional discrimination AND the fact that undocumented immigrants are hired to perform work under abusive conditions rather than hired to perform work for which no other workers are available. Their desirability as workers is not about general scarcity—it is about specific forms of exploitation.

(I would argue that this is similar to the situation of foreign laborers in Taiwan.) Anyway, we will discuss this in the fall when the course begins and we get into issues of subcultures and minority groups.

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