Do historians “write their biographies” with the subjects they choose to address in their research? In this collection, editors Alan M. Kraut and David A. Gerber compiled eleven original essays by historians whose own ethnic backgrounds shaped the choices they have made about their own research and writing as scholars. These authors, historians of American immigration and ethnicity, revisited family and personal experiences and reflect on how their lives helped shape their later scholarly pursuits, at times inspiring specific questions they asked of the nation’s immigrant past. They address issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and assimilation in academia, in the discipline of history, and in society at large. Most have been pioneers not only in their respective fields, but also in representing their ethnic group within American academia. Some of the women in the group were in the vanguard of gender diversity in the discipline of history as well as on the faculties of the institutions where they have taught.
The authors in this collection represent a wide array of backgrounds, spanning Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. What they have in common is their passionate engagement with the making of social and personal identities and with finding a voice to explain their personal stories in public terms.
Contributors: Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, John Bodnar, María C. García, David A. Gerber, Violet M. Showers Johnson, Alan M. Kraut, Timothy J. Meagher, Deborah Dash Moore, Dominic A. Pacyga, Barbara M. Posadas, Eileen H. Tamura, Virginia Yans, Judy Yung
Middle Eastern immigration to Mexico is one of the intriguing, untold stories in the history of both regions. In So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico, Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp presents the fascinating findings of her extensive fieldwork in Mexico as well as in Lebanon and Syria, which included comprehensive data collection from more than 8,000 original immigration cards as well as studies of decades of legal publications and the collection of historiographies from descendents of Middle Eastern immigrants living in Mexico today.
Adding an important chapter to studies of the Arab diaspora, Alfaro-Velcamp's study shows that political instability in both Mexico and the Middle East kept many from fulfilling their dreams of returning to their countries of origin after realizing wealth in Mexico, in a few cases drawing on an imagined Phoenician past to create a class of economically powerful Lebanese Mexicans. She also explores the repercussions of xenophobia in Mexico, the effect of religious differences, and the impact of key events such as the Mexican Revolution.
Challenging the post-revolutionary definitions of mexicanidad and exposing new aspects of the often contradictory attitudes of Mexicans toward foreigners, So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico should spark timely dialogues regarding race and ethnicity, and the essence of Mexican citizenship.