BOOK FREE The Minds of the West Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West 1830 1917 By Jon Gjerde – chiangshistory.org


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Made no such effort on behalf of his offspring for To Be A Self Made Man Was His Ideal Each be a self made man was his ideal Each generation would create its place in society just as its predecessor had one As a result European immigrant farm families were likely to keep farms in the family and even extend them over timeImmigrants PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS PRESENTS A SIMILARLY MIXED PICTURE EVEN in politics presents a similarly mixed picture Even immigrants adapted to pressures from their local communities and national culture they invented ethnic identities that they shared as an interest group with people in the broader society In *His Final Chapter Gjerde Shows *final chapter Gjerde shows ethnic identities coalesced in voting and arguing about three significant issues in 19th century midwestern politics public schooling temperance and woman suffrage Despite ethnic associations with certain stances on all of these issues ethnic groups sharply ivided within themselves over each issue In every case Gjerde sensitively balances the forces of assimilation and ethnic preservation It s not that immigrants id not adapt to American culture it s just that it was a complicated process Over time a series of complex and A Village with My Name: A Family History of China's Opening to the World dynamic not just one way cultural negotiations integrated immigrants into their host culture In the end Gjerde concludes the book s accounts of interactions tensions and conflicts within ethnic communities as well as between those communities and the larger culture exemplify the genius of an American tradition that used freedoms of belief to amalgamate its heterogeneous citizenry into a pluralistic whole Politically sensitive readers will note that it was freedoms of belief not coercion that led to a pluralistic whole not a oneness of mind And readers with even a superficial knowledge of Iowa history and culture will note that the ethnic enclaves that so worried some observers in the 19th century have become an integral and valuable part of Iowa s cultural and economic landscape even though they long insisted on retaining their native language traditions and valuesThe Minds of the West is a big important andemanding book that Anthropology as Cultural Critique deals with big important ideas and issues Sometimes those ideas can seem abstract andaunting when Gjerde introduces them as they must in the way I have summarized them here but his narratives give life to those ideas by showing how they played out in the lives of real communities and individuals He tells for example of the aging immigrant who observed that he had nothing against the English language I use it myself every Anyone day But if weon t teach our children Norwegian what will they o when they get to heaven The Minds of the West is a book that should be read by immigrants escendants of immigrants and those who care about how we continue to respond to new immigrants in our mids. Lements built around familial and community institutions Gjerde compares patterns of Boggs development and acculturation across immigrant groups exploring the frictions and fissures experienced within and between communities Finally he examines the means by which individual ethnic groups built themselves a representative voice joining the political and socialebate on both a regional and national leve. ,

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The Minds of the West Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West 1830 1917Olaf Martin Oleson immigrated from Norway To Fort Dodge Iowa to Fort Dodge Iowa 1870 and uickly established himself as a successful businessman in the community At the same time he worked tirelessly to promote a native language singing group in his community and similar groups across the country Such stories are the stuff of historyBecause all Iowans have immigrated to this state from other places yes even the Meswakis of Tama County Has Long Been A Popular Topic For County immigration has long been a popular topic for of all types well as for readers of history How id immigrants adapt to their new surroundings What traditions Albert Camus did they bring with them from their points of emigration how longid those traditions survive and how Bitter Choices did they change For a long time historians focused on the process of assimilation the integration of immigrants into theominant prevailing culture of their new home The melting pot metaphor has persisted in the popular imagination long after professional historians proposed other apt metaphors such as the patchwork uilt or mosaic which emphasize the piecing together of separate Bill Veecks Crosstown Classic distinctive elements into a pluralistic whole rather than a meltingown of those elements into a homogenous undistinguished mass Historians now repeatedly call attention to the remarkable persistence of Old World traditions and to the ways the host culture adapted to immigrants as well as the ways immigrants adapted to it Although many of those recent studies focus on immigrants to the nation s urban centers one of the best is one that focuses on the rural Midwest and Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold draws much of its evidence from Iowa s German and Scandinavian immigrant communities Jon Gjerde s The Minds of the West Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West 1830 1917 Chapel Hill University of North Carolina Press 1997 Gjerde s themes are timely ones at a time when Iowa politicians worry about the threat posed by new immigrants who seem slow to adopt their host culture s language and values The Minds of the West opens by noting that in the mid nineteenth century some native born Americans in the East worried that foreign minds with little or no appreciation for American traditions institutions and religious and political values would come toominate in the Middle West threatening the future of the United States if they were not uickly amalgamated Who were these Mikhail Bakhtin dangerous foreigners They were immigrants from northern Europe including among others the Norwegian immigrants who settled around Decorah the Swedish immigrants in Page and Montgomery County the Danish immi grants in Audubon County and the German immigrants scattered across the state and the region In these relatively isolated culturallyefined enclaves Old World values shaped institutions family church and communi. In the century preceding World War I the American Middle West Carnival drew thousands of migrants both from Europe and from the northeastern United States In the American mind the region represented a place where socialifferences could be muted and a istinctly American culture created Many of the European groups however viewed the Midwest as an area of opportunity because it allowed them to retain cult. Ty and relationships within them Especially in these communities but even when they settled in mixed communities immigrants persisted in using their they settled in mixed communities immigrants persisted in using their languages and celebrating native traditions for ecades in some places even for generations They founded native language news papers and musical groups and established separate schools and churches where they taught their children and worshiped in their native language until in a part of Iowa history that few would point to with pride harassment and public pressure official and unofficial forced them to give up such practices uring World War I The immigrants loyalty to their adopted nation was built largely on the freedom it offered them to retain the values they brought with them to their new home Indeed Gjerde argues in The Minds of the West a political environment that permitted immigrants to maintain their religious beliefs and converse in their home language worked to augment loyalties to the nation At the same time allegiance to the nation that offered the freedom to recreate religious and cultural traditions often came into conflict with the hierarchical and authoritarian religious and family structures that those ethnic communities recreated It is the resulting interactions tensions and conflicts that are the main focus of The Minds of the West as Gjerde traces them in The Context Churches context of churches and political participation The tensions were particularly acute when American individualism freedoms encountered the emands and structures of immigrants religious beliefs and institutions Religious leaders often insisted for example that religious freedom meant the freedom to establish religious schools alongside their churches to preserve their religious traditions Many of their parishioners however used their freedom to send their children to public schools even when it meant that the children s ties to traditional religion were weakened under the pressures of the public school environmentFamilies faced other pressures to assimilate For example native born neighbors tended to ridicule German families who flouted Yankee gender relationships by having women work in the fields along with their husbands and fathers In three chapters in the middle of the book Gjerde contrasts relationships within native Yankee families with those in immigrant families He found that even when European immigrants adopted local farming methods and housing and clothing styles they retained a Come In and Hear the Truth distinctive pattern of long term family relationships for a century or The ambition of the European farmer epitomized by the German farmer was to see his sons on reaching manhood established with their families on farms clustered about his own The American father on the other hand. Ural and religious traditions from their homelands Jon Gjerde examines the cultural patterns or minds that those settling the Middle West carried with them He argues that such cultural transplantation could occur because patterns of migration tended to reunite people of similar pasts and because the rural Midwest was a vast region where cultural groups could seuester themselves in tight knit sett.

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