Almost All Aliens : Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity book cover
2nd Edition

Almost All Aliens
Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity

ISBN 9781138017702
Published September 15, 2022 by Routledge
538 Pages 16 Color & 69 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Almost All Aliens offers a unique reinterpretation of immigration in the history of the United States. Setting aside the European migrant-centered melting-pot model of immigrant assimilation, Paul Spickard, Francisco Beltrán, and Laura Hooton put forward a fresh and provocative reconceptualization that embraces the multicultural, racialized, and colonially inflected reality of immigration that has always existed in the United States. Their astute study illustrates the complex relationship between ethnic identity and race, slavery, and colonial expansion.

Examining the lives of those who crossed the Atlantic, as well as those who crossed the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the North American Borderlands, Almost All Aliens provides a distinct, inclusive, and critical analysis of immigration, race, and identity in the United States from 1600 until the present. The second edition updates Almost All Aliens through the first two decades of the twenty-first century, recounting and analyzing the massive changes in immigration policy, the reception of immigrants, and immigrant experiences that whipsawed back and forth throughout the era. It includes a new final chapter that brings the story up to the present day.

This book will appeal to students and researchers alike studying the history of immigration, race, and colonialism in the United States, as well as those interested in American identity, especially in the context of the early twenty-first century.

Table of Contents

1. Immigration, Race, Ethnicity, Colonialism

Beyond Ellis Island—How Not to Think About Immigration History

Not Assimilation but Race Making

The Immigrant Assimilation Model

The Transnational Diasporic Model

The Panethnic Formation Model

Race Versus Ethnicity: The Difference, and the Difference It Makes

Ethnic Formation Processes

Colonialism and Race Making

Words Matter

Some Terms the Reader May Want to Think About Differently

An Idea That May Be New

2. Colliding Peoples in Eastern North America, 16001780

What Do We Celebrate?

In the Beginning There Were Indians



There Goes the Neighborhood: European Incursion and "Settlement"

Spanish, French, and Dutch Encounter Native Peoples

English Immigrants Encounter Native Peoples

Resistance, Conflict, Genocide

A Mixed Multitude: European Migrants

English Immigrants

Immigration Policy Under the British

Other Europeans


From English to American

Out of Africa

To Become a Slave

Dimensions and Effects

How "Black" and "Slave" Came to Mean the Same Thing

Variations on a Theme

From Igbo and Bambara to Negro

Merging Peoples, Blending Cultures

The End of an Age

Identity: Black, White, and Red


3. An Anglo-American Republic? Racial Citizenship, 17601860

Slavery and Antislavery in the Era of the American Revolution

Thinking About Freedom, and Not

Three-Fifths of a Person

Partly Free People of Color and One Drop of Blood

Africans and Indians

Free White Persons: Defining Membership

Playing Indian: White Appropriations of Native American Symbols and Identities

European Immigrants

Beginnings of US Immigration Policy

Immigration, but Not "Old" or "New"



Peasants Into City People: The Famine Irish

Sephardim and German Jews

Issues in European Migration

Individual Choice or Embedded in a Web of Industrial Capital?

Recruitment and Chain Migration

Changes in Transportation Technology and Travel Conditions


Were the Irish Ever Not White?

Making a White Race

4. The Border Crossed Us: Euro-Americans Take the Continent, 18301900

US Colonial Expansion Across North America

Making Empire, Making Race: Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion

Indian Deportation to the West

Resistance and Genocide

The Remnant: Reservation Indians

Disappearing Peoples

Native American Panethnic Formation

Taking the Mexican Northlands

Forget the Alamo: Taking Texas for Slavery

Expanding Aggression

Incorporating Mexico’s People, and Not

Making Race in California

Racial Replacement

East from Asia

Chinese Immigrants

The Anti-Chinese Movement

Slave and Citizen

Colonialism and Race Making

5. The Great Wave, 18701930

From New Sources and Old, to America and Back

Still Coming From Northwest Europe

New Sources of Workers in Southern Europe

From Eastern Europe, Too

Northeast Europeans

Making a Multiethnic Working Class in the West




Filipinos and Other Asians

Expunging Native Peoples

Interlocking Discriminations

6. Cementing Hierarchy: Issues and Interpretations, 18701930

How They Lived and Worked

The Immigrant Working Class

Not All Were Working Class

Leading the Poor

Gender and Migration

Angles of Entry

Making Jim Crow in the South

Making Racial and Ethnic Hierarchy in the North

Whiteness of Several Colors

Beginnings of Black Migration

Empire and Race Making

Making War on Our Little Brown Brothers

Queen Lili`uokalani Loses Her Country

Law, Race, and Immigration

Race and Gender Before the Law

Legal Whiteness

Racialist Pseudoscience and Its Offspring

Pseudoscience Becomes Popular Knowledge

Perfecting Humans

Anti-Immigrant Movements

The Anti-Japanese Movement

The Americanization Campaign

The Campaign for Immigration Restriction

Interpretive Issues


Ethnicity on Display: Ethnic Festivals, World’s Fairs, and Human Zoos

Racializing Religion: Jews as White and Not

7. White People’s America, 19241965

Recruiting Citizens

Second Generations and Third

Recruiting Guest Workers


Filipinos and Puerto Ricans

Indians or Citizens?

World War II

Rooting Out the Zoot

Neither an Accident, Nor a Mistake

European Refugees and Displaced Persons

Cracks in White Hegemony

The Cold War: Competing for the World’s Peoples

The Black Freedom Movement

Racial Fairness and the Immigration Act of 1965

8. New Migrants From New Places: Since 1965

Some Migrants We Know

From Asia

Fleeing War in Vietnam and Mainland Southeast Asia

Draining Brains From the Philippines

From Korea

From South Asia

From China

A Model Minority?

From the Americas

Perhaps a Model Minority: Migrants From Mexico

Migrants or Exiles? From Cuba

From Other Parts of Latin America and the Caribbean

From Europe

From Africa

Continuing Involvements Abroad

9. Redefining Membership amid Multiplicity: Since 1965

Immigration Reform, Again and Again

Panethnic Power

The Chicana and Chicano Movement

The Asian American Panethnic Movement

Native American Political and Cultural Resurgence

African Americans After Civil Rights to President Barack Obama

Disgruntled White People

Not the KKK: White Ethnic Movements

Fighting Affirmative Action

New Issues in a New Era

Changes in Racial Etiquette


The Multiracial Movement

Forever Foreigners: Asians and Arabs

September 11, 2001, and the Racialization of Middle Eastern Americans

National Security and Borders

10. The Return of White Supremacy?

Hate in the Time of COVID

Triumph of the New Nativism

Epoch of Hate: Nativism, the Alt-Right, Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia

Racist and Anti-Immigrant Policies During the Trump Presidency

Racism and Etiquette


By the Numbers: Not Enough Immigrants

The Rise and Fall of Mexican Migration

Central Americans


Militarizing the Border

People Without Papers

Refugees and Asylum

Babies in Cages

Political Swings and Resistance

11. Epilogue

Projecting the Future

Some Issues to Consider As We Look Ahead

What Do Immigrants Cost?

How Shall We Deal With Inequalities That Have Been Shaped by Generations?

Who Is an American?


Hope for the Future?

Appendix A

View More



Paul Spickard is Distinguished Professor of History and several other fields at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has held positions at 15 universities in the United States and abroad. Among his many books are Race in Mind: Critical Essays and Shape Shifters: Journeys Across Terrains of Race and Identity.

Francisco Beltrán is Assistant Professor of History at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK. Previously, he taught at San Francisco State University, the University of Michigan, and Reed College. His teaching and research interests include Chicanx and Latinx history, race and ethnicity, immigration, borderlands, and oral history.

Laura Hooton is Assistant Professor of History at Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX. She taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point for three years, where she founded the Black History Project. Her work appears in Farming Across Borders: A Transnational History of the North American West and California History.


Praise for the first edition:


"Placing race at the center of his story, Spickard offers an important corrective to dominant immigrant narratives about European huddled masses and bountiful golden doors. As immigration debates rage, Almost All Aliens provides vital historical perspective.

―Thomas A. Guglielmo, Associate Professor and Chair of American Studies at GWU


"Almost All Aliens is simply stunning. Spickard powerfully connects the study of immigration to the histories of race, slavery, and the displacement of Native peoples. In doing so, he revises both immigration history and American history."

―Erika Lee, author of At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration During the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943 and The Making of Asian America or America for Americans.


"With Almost All Aliens Paul Spickard again demonstrates that he is one of our most skillful and innovative interpreters of race and ethnicity in American life.  He challenges most of the assumptions made about the topic since Crèvecoeur asked his fateful question and provides an exciting analytic narrative of our immigrant past."

―Roger Daniels, Charles Phelps Taft Professor Emeritus of History, University of Cincinnati


"Almost All Aliens is a stunning achievement! By combining the insights of the massive recent literature on immigration, race, and colonialism, Paul Spickard has produced a masterful new narrative of U.S. immigration history for the 21st century. Immensely readable and thoroughly provocative, it will delight students and scholars of immigration alike."

―George J. Sanchez, University of Southern California, author of Becoming Mexican American and Boyle Heights


"With this book, Paul Spickard has produced the best single-volume study of American immigration history available today."

― K. Scott Wong, Williams College