How Immigrants Became 'Americans:' The Case of the Poles

Monday, October 20th, 2014
Jim Barrett

Center for Advanced Study
912 West Illinois Street

Event Description

The question is one of the oldest in our complex relationship with immigration: How did immigrants, steeped in their old world cultures, gradually and unevenly transform their own identities and begin to think of themselves as “Americans”? This paper considers the case of the particularly strong and durable Polish American culture from two vantage points that have perhaps not received enough consideration: religion, specifically the role of the Catholic Church, and youth culture—music, dance, and street gangs. Each played a distinctive role in the emergence of a distinct “Polish American” identity by the interwar years.
Emily Pope-Obeda will give a related talk Institutions of Immigrant Removal: The Rise of the American Deportation Regime, November 12 at noon.


The CAS Initiative on Immigration – History and Policy brought together scholars in the social sciences, law, computer science, engineering and humanities to explore new approaches to immigration and its controversies. CAS Resident Associates Jim Barrett  (History) and Gale Summerfield (Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program) led this initiative.

Jim Barrett

Department of History