How To Think About (and Teach) the History of Immigration and Citizenship – NCSS Special Project | National Humanities Center

Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

How To Think About (and Teach) the History of Immigration and Citizenship – NCSS Special Project

Kunal Parker

Kunal M. Parker (Fellow, 2014–15; Professor and Dean's Distinguished Scholar)

November 10, 2020

Immigration is always in the news. We think of it principally in terms of how to manage the influx of outsiders into our community. Whom should we admit? How much should we invest in controlling our borders? How should we regulate those we have chosen to admit? This webinar will suggest that these ways of understanding immigration are premised on facile distinctions between “citizen” and “alien,” “us” and “them.” The long history of immigration and citizenship in the United States suggests a different set of questions and answers. If we look back in time, we find that “foreigners” in the United States could be not only those who came to the country from outside it, but also those who entered communities from neighboring towns, counties, and states. For a long stretch of American history, not everyone born within the United States was deemed a legal citizen thereof. And even those deemed legal citizens were frequently denied many of the rights we now think of as essential to the status of citizen. This webinar seeks to complicate our understanding of the history of immigration and citizenship by joining immigration history with the history of African Americans, Latino/a Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, women, and the poor.

This series is a partnership between the National Humanities Center and the National Council for the Social Studies and is generously sponsored by the Library of Congress’ Teaching for Primary Sources grant program.


History / Political Science / Law / Immigration / Citizenship / American History /