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Mae Ngai

Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History, Columbia University

Ngai will write an intellectual and political history of the American liberal narrative of immigrant integration. She will examine how immigration history was written after World War II and how that narrative helped both to secure immigration reform in the 1960s and established an enduring framework for how Americans think about immigration and assimilation. Ngai will explore the effects of this narrative, demonstrating how the “nation of immigrants” theory normalized expectations of socioeconomic mobility and hardened racial distinctions, with Euro-American ethnics achieving “whiteness” via their assimilation, while non-European immigrants, especially ethnic Mexicans, were racialized in response to their alleged failure to assimilate. 


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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