The June issue of the Journal of American History is now online for subscribers.
Included are five articles: “Indigenous Peoples without the Republic,” by Gregory Evans Dowd, “Lies, Larceny, and the Christian Zulu Prince: An Examination of the Realm of the Reasonable in American Imaginings of Africa” by Sara C. Jorgensen, “What Yun Ch’i-ho Knew: U.S.-Japan Relations and Imperial Race Making in Korea and the American South, 1904–1919,” by Chris Suh, “Beautiful Urbanism: Gender, Landscape, and Contestation in Latino Chicago’s Age of Urban Renewal” by Mike Amezcua, and “De Terruño a Terruño: Reimagining Belonging through the Creation of Hometown Associations” by Ana Raquel Minian. We’ve included previews of these articles below.
Our exhibition reviews section featured an extended review of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. by Joanne Pope Melish, Marcia Chatelain, and Hasan Kwame Jeffries.
Movies reviewed in this issue include All the Way, Bonnie and Clyde, The Boys of ’36, Patriots Day, Jackie Robinson, Hacksaw Ridge, The Conscientious Objector, The Unlikeliest Hero, Jackie, Mapplethorpe, and The Birth of a Nation.
Previews of Articles
Would indigenous peoples have done better without the American Revolution? Gregory Evans Dowd challenges the thesis that the Revolution, by creating a settlers’ republic, imperiled American Indians more than had the British Empire. Examining North America on the eve of the revolution and the British settler colonies in Canada, Australia, Southern Africa, and New Zealand afterward, Dowd suggests that the American Republic, frequently ferocious though it was, was not exceptionally so. Native American nations, moreover, seized and still retain from American republicanism a concept of indigenous sovereignty largely unavailable in the other British settler colonies and their successor states. Indeed, by redirecting the British Empire northward and overseas, the Revolution endangered indigenous peoples abroad.
Sara Jorgensen examines a late nineteenth-century con man who presented himself as a Christian Zulu prince raising funds to complete his education and help his people. His ability to move autonomously through the American landscape indicates acceptance of a degree of African agency that challenges conventional portrayals of African people playing only passive roles. By looking at the story of this imposter prince and at the African students who informed him, Jorgensen argues for a broader conceptualization of American understandings of Africa, and in particular for the contradictory position of members of the mission movement, who simultaneously authored and undermined claims of African otherness.
By following the transnational life of Yun Ch’i-ho Chris Suh uncovers the intimate interimperial relationship between the United States and Japan in the early twentieth century. This relationship produced a particular set of ideas about race that shaped American and Japanese identities as comparable peoples and that legitimated the colonial rule of Korea. These ideas were, surprisingly, shaped by stories of black-white relations in the American South, and they proved crucial to maintaining an imperial world order even as the United States began to project itself as an anticolonial power—a contradiction that Yun, a Korean colonial subject educated in the American South, was particularly well positioned to see.
Mike Amezcua enriches our understanding of the ways Latina and Latino Chicagoans contested and improvised their built environment as they faced an age of urban renewal displacement. From the 1940s to 1960s these residents drew on their cultural practices of urbanism as they customized aging ballrooms, theaters, storefronts, and tenements to beautify their redlined communities. Rather than choosing to be left in the rubble, Latino civic groups, merchants, and organizations facilitated their inclusion into the politics of planning, housing, and conservation. Amezcua concludes by raising questions about how this community, erased by urban renewal, is remembered and why its rich intersection of race, gender, and landscape use has been forgotten.
Utilizing a transnational lens, Ana Raquel Minian explores the effect that Mexican migrants living in Los Angeles in the 1960s–1980s period had on their home communities in Mexico. Migrants formed clubs that took the role of an extraterritorial welfare state, and Minian examines how these organizations dealt with issues of gender, race, and class across national boundaries. Along with employing oral history interviews conducted by Minian, the article brings together cultural, social, political, and economic history by using unconventional sources, often stored in activists’ homes or in La Casa del Mexicano, a building in Los Angles where migrants congregated.