Immigrants Out: A History of American Xenophobia

Xenophobia is not just about immigrants. It is about who has the power to define what it means to be American.

Lecture Description

The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But as award-winning author and historian Erika Lee will discuss, the US is also a nation of xenophobia. Fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants have been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to today. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their “strange and foreign ways.” Americans’ anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, the so-called browning of America, and are calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.” Drawing from her new book, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States, Lee forces us to confront this history and explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America.


Immigration Politics

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