The cultural conditions of transnational citizenship: On the interpenetration of political and ethnic cultures

Political Theory 25 (6):771-813 (1997)
Abstract
No reverberatory effect of the great war has caused American public opinion more solicitude than the failure of the “melting-pot.” The tendency... has been for the national clusters of immigrants, as they became more and more firmly established and more and more prosperous to cultivate more and more assiduously the literatures and cultural traditions of their homelands. Assimilation, in other words, instead of washing out the memories of Europe, made them more and more intensely real. Just as these clusters became more and more objectively American, did they become more and more German or Scandinavian or Bohemian or Polish.... [This] is not, however, to admit the failure of Americanization. It is not to fear the failure of democracy. It is rather to urge us to an investigation of what Americanism may rightly mean. It is to ask ourselves whether our ideal has been broad or narrow—whether perhaps the time has not come to assert a higher ideal than the “melting pot.”... We act as if we wanted Americanization to take place only on our own terms, and not by the consent of the governed. All our elaborate machinery of settlement and school and union, of social and political naturalization, however, will move with friction just in so far as it neglects to take into account this strong and virile insistence that American shall be what the immigrant will have a hand in making it, and not what a ruling class, descendent of those British stocks which were the first permanent immigrants, decide that America shall be made. Randolph Bourne (1916/1977, 248ff)
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David Owen (2011). Transnational Citizenship and the Democratic State: Modes of Membership and Voting Rights. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (5):641-663.
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