“No Lamps” and “Twenty Years of Irish American History”

“No Lamps” and “Twenty Years of Irish American History”

“No Lamps Were Lit for Them: Angel Island and the Historiography of Asian American Immigration” by Roger Daniels discusses the American immigration center at Angel Island and the negative/dark history associated with it. The author compares Angel Island to Ellis island, which is more commonly known and has far more literature on the immigrants who passed through. Angel Island mainly saw Asian immigrants either passing through, being detained, or even deported. Many of the literature and scholarship of Angel island is based on Anti-Asian sentiment or Chinese exclusion legislation that effected the atmosphere and memory of Angel Island. The author explains that at the time of which Angel island was experiencing an influx of immigrants, it was then that strong distinctions were made of who was granted permission into the United States and who was not. However, even if these immigrants were granted access, they experienced strict and severe protocols in allowing passage. The author’s overall argument supports that Angel Island and Ellis island are two vastly different representations of American Immigration experiences.

“Twenty Year of Irish American Historiography” by Kevin Kenny begins with Kenny’s analysis of Kerby Miller’s Emigrants and Exiles in how it shaped the historiographic field of understanding Irish immigration patterns. In particular, Miller focuses on the peculiarity among the shared, strong feeling of involuntary migration that most Irish immigrants seem to accept. Kenny argues that Miller’s work does not supply appropriate understandings of Irish societal and political history and that in turn causes blurred representation of the topic. Kenny then focuses the article on scholarship in the field associated with understanding Irish American culture and life. This can be seen through the literature on Irish American women as well as looking into the labor force of America during the nineteenth century. Specifically looking towards the Irish working class, Kenny argues is where the “whiteness” phenomenon occurred. Kenny concludes the article by examining different historical perspectives and approaches and how further research would be beneficial in fully understanding Irish American life.

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