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Journal Article

Nationalising foreigners: the making of American national identity


Publication date

03 Jan 2022


Whereas the literature asks whether immigrants and their descendants come to resemble the ‘mainstream’, this paper places the acquisition of a new national identity at the centre of attention, contending that the views of ethnic outsiders provide strategic leverage in identifying any underlying consensus regarding the bounds of the nation and the means by which those bounds should be implemented. We contend that becoming ‘American’ entails adopting American attitudes towards persons beyond the territorial divide, a population that includes nationals of one's country of origin or ancestry. The paper develops a conceptual framework to understand how attachment to the people of the state of emigration gets transformed into attachment to the people of the state of immigration. The paper provides a demonstration of that process, focusing on Mexican immigrants and their descendants and using a variety of data sources to highlight and unpack different dimensions of Americanisation.

Published in

Nations and Nationalism





Citizenship, Migration, Ethnic Groups, and Social Attitudes


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