Immigration and Urban History Seminar

Subscribe to this seminar series for $25, and you will receive access to the seminar papers for THREE series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, and the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these three fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship.

The Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar provides a setting for local scholars as well as members of the general public to discuss all aspects of American immigration as well as urban history and culture. Programs may address one or both historical disciplines and are not confined to Massachusetts topics. Six to eight sessions take place annually during the academic year, and most focus on works in progress.

Seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a precirculated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

Immigration and Urban History Seminar Emergent Ghettos: Black Neighborhoods in New York and Chicago, 1880-1940 24 September 2013. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. John Logan, Brown University Comment: William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

This study revisits and revises the widely held view that before the Great Migration blacks in the urban North did not experience the segregating processes that later created black ghettos. It is largely based on quantitative analyses of newly available census data using GIS methods to map black and white residential patterns over time.    

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Immigration and Urban History Seminar Dynamic Tensions: Charles Atlas, Immigrant Bodybuilders, and Eugenics, 1920-45 29 October 2013. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Dominique Padurano, Scarsdale High School Comment: E. Anthony Rotundo, Phillips Academy Andover

Rescheduled from April 2013. This paper explores the paradox of bodybuilders such as Atlas espousing eugenics principles while highlighting their own allegedly innate weaknesses as a marketing strategy for their diet and exercise regimens. It argues that both techniques functioned as assimilation strategies for the immigrant and ethnic bodybuilding community at a time when the U.S. was less than hospitable to foreigners.

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Immigration and Urban History Seminar "A Place Reeking with Rottenness": The "Corpus Christi Situation" (1933) and Legacies of Abusive Immigrant Detention 26 November 2013. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. David Hernández, Mount Holyoke College Comment: Daniel Kanstroom, Boston College Law School

In July 1933, an internal investigation of the Immigration Service in Texas exposed allegations of violence, sexual abuse, extortion, and coerced testimonies taking place at the private immigrant detention facility run by Julia and Olivia Valente. The "Corpus Christi Situation," as it was also known, included collusion with Immigration Service officers as well as sexual impropriety and legal deception. The Valente Detention Home is a scandalous example of detainee abuse at the hands of immigration authorities and their surrogates. It is more importantly part of a legacy of detainee abuse--from denial of legal rights and poor conditions of incarceration to violence, sexual abuse, and death that is widespread in immigrant facilities today. The case of the Valente Detention Home thus provides the operating terms for understanding contemporary detention practices, in particular, the use of private and nonfederal facilities and management for detaining immigrants.

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Immigration and Urban History Seminar Making a Workforce, Unmaking a Working Class: The Development of "Human Capital" in Houston, 1900-1980 28 January 2014. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Bryant Etheridge, Harvard University Comment: John R. Harris, Boston University

This paper documents the emergence of access to quality, job-relevant education and training as a central economic issue among 1960s civil rights activists in Houston. In so doing it takes issue with a central aspect of the Long Civil Rights Movement historiography, which typically labels education desegregation and reform as issues of social equality. In fact, African Americans and Mexican Americans fought for because they believed them to be vital and urgent economic issues.

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Immigration and Urban History Seminar Curating the City: The Framing of Los Angeles 25 February 2014. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Catherine Gudis, University of California—Riverside Comment: Carlo Rotella, Boston College

“Curating the City” looks at the ways in which Los Angeles has been framed, first in the discourse around architecture, planning, and preservation in the post-World War II period, and then through artistic practices from the late 1960s to the present that engage diverse publics in re-contextualizing urban space and acknowledging the power dynamics that have structured its development. The site-based performances, theatrical productions, and Skid Row historical archive and museum of the Los Angeles Poverty Department (the other LAPD) are the case study for this presentation, which considers how practices of curation, including relational, dialogic, and performative modes of social artistic engagement, can give voice and visibility to often overlooked social stories and spaces, allowing thought and conscience to permeate the hard edifice of capital interest that has developed the city.

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Immigration and Urban History Seminar Boston’s Chinatowns and Recent Senior Migration 25 March 2014. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Nicole Newendorp, Harvard University Comment: Wing-kai To, Bridgewater State University

This discussion centers on the lifeways and services available to low-income, primarily non-English speaking Chinese seniors who live in Boston’s downtown Chinatown and Quincy, a satellite Chinatown in the suburbs. In so doing, it re-focuses attention away from the traditional question of defining Chinatown through residential space to the problem of defining community more generally for a heterogeneous group of migrants with a rich diversity of life experiences.

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Immigration and Urban History Seminar Panel Discussion: American Catholics and U.S. Immigration Policy before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 29 April 2014. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Danielle Battisti, University of Nebraska, Gráinne McEvoy, Boston College Comment: Justin Poché, College of the Holy Cross

McEvoy’s paper, “‘A Christian and Democratic Attitude’: The Catholic Campaign for Education and Enlightenment on U.S. Immigration Policy, 1952-1957,” examines the Catholic campaign for comprehensive immigration reform during and in the wake of the McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which removed discrimination on the basis of race from federal immigration policy but retained the national origins quota system. Battisti’s essay, “‘Whom Shall We Welcome?’ Italian Americans and Immigration Reform Campaigns, 1948-1965,” examines the efforts of Italian Americans who both assisted Italian immigrants to the U.S. after World War II and who joined in a broader movement to abolish the national origins system and thereby reform the nation’s immigration policies in the 1950s and 1960s.

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

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More events
24 September 2013 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Immigration and Urban History Seminar

Emergent Ghettos: Black Neighborhoods in New York and Chicago, 1880-1940

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
John Logan, Brown University Comment: William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

29 October 2013 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Immigration and Urban History Seminar

Dynamic Tensions: Charles Atlas, Immigrant Bodybuilders, and Eugenics, 1920-45

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Dominique Padurano, Scarsdale High School Comment: E. Anthony Rotundo, Phillips Academy Andover

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

26 November 2013 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Immigration and Urban History Seminar

"A Place Reeking with Rottenness": The "Corpus Christi Situation" (1933) and Legacies of Abusive Immigrant Detention

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
David Hernández, Mount Holyoke College Comment: Daniel Kanstroom, Boston College Law School

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

28 January 2014 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Immigration and Urban History Seminar

Making a Workforce, Unmaking a Working Class: The Development of "Human Capital" in Houston, 1900-1980

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Bryant Etheridge, Harvard University Comment: John R. Harris, Boston University

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

25 February 2014 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Immigration and Urban History Seminar

Curating the City: The Framing of Los Angeles

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Catherine Gudis, University of California—Riverside Comment: Carlo Rotella, Boston College

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

25 March 2014 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Immigration and Urban History Seminar

Boston’s Chinatowns and Recent Senior Migration

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Nicole Newendorp, Harvard University Comment: Wing-kai To, Bridgewater State University

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

29 April 2014 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Immigration and Urban History Seminar

Panel Discussion: American Catholics and U.S. Immigration Policy before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Danielle Battisti, University of Nebraska, Gráinne McEvoy, Boston College Comment: Justin Poché, College of the Holy Cross

McEvoy’s paper, “‘A Christian and Democratic Attitude’: The Catholic Campaign for Education and Enlightenment on U.S. Immigration Policy, 1952-1957,” examines the Catholic campaign for comprehensive immigration reform during and in the wake of the McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which removed discrimination on the basis of race from federal immigration policy but retained the national origins quota system. Battisti’s essay, “‘Whom Shall We Welcome?’ Italian Americans and Immigration Reform Campaigns, 1948-1965,” examines the efforts of Italian Americans who both assisted Italian immigrants to the U.S. after World War II and who joined in a broader movement to abolish the national origins system and thereby reform the nation’s immigration policies in the 1950s and 1960s.


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