Immigration as an Experience in Uprootedness

For our 297 class, we were required to read Oscar Handlin’s Immigration as an Experience in Uprootedness. In his essay, Handlin describes the life of the European peasant. These would be the people who would come over and, eventually, be farmers in America. He took the position that all peasants, regardless as to which country they came from, likely had similar experiences. The peasant communes in these countries were very close-knit groups. Handlin argues that this was one of the obstacles a peasant would have to overcome when they came to America: group reliance. Many of the peasants came over alone and had to work a farm without a community to help them. From the subsequent hardships of this, many peasants accepted the ideas of authority and tradition that, today marks the conservative ideology. On a side note, I found some of the grammar in this essay to be simply atrocious.

We also had to read John Bodnar’s Immigration Portrayed as an Experience of Transplantation. Bodnar argued that there existed two types of immigrants, the larger group being those who performed menial tasks and labor, and the smaller being those who came looking for personal gain.  The majority of immigrants, when they came to the U.S., were concerned with the more immediate issues of work, money and food. That is to say, they were not focused on starting their own business of making a fortune. While many aspects of their lives were controlled by the market, the church, and their work, the immigrants tried to ensure that they had complete control over what little they could. It should be of note that the manner in which the Bodnar writes in is almost accusational of the capitalist system.

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