- Migrants and Migration in Modern North America: Cross-Border Lives, Labor Markets, and Politics
This edited collection examines the movement of people into and within North America over the past two centuries. For such a large topic, each contributor does an excellent job of summarizing his or her fi eld, and the book comes together to present a swirling depiction of relocating populations that is complex yet understandable. Generally, each of the nineteen chapters presents a synthesis of information about immigration from or into a specifi c geographic area. Although Mexican and Asian immigration into the United States makes up much of the content, several chapters delve into Canada, the Caribbean, and Central America. Texas appears several times within the book as a destination for many Mexican immigrants, but the state does not play a central role. Most memorable are the sections documenting border crossings between the U.S. and Canada, movements of people out of the Caribbean, and relocations of Americans and other foreigners into Mexico. With each chapter covering a different topic, Migrants and Migration in Modern North America examines the full spectrum of modern North American history, although there is only one chapter fully devoted to Central America and chapters overall only average about twenty pages, endnotes included.
The editors set out to create a transnational history of the movement of people across the continent, superseding national histories to provide an integrated depiction of North American migration. The book persuasively argues for the teaching of a survey class in North American history, instead of focusing on the United States alone. In addition, the fi nal chapter suggests 1867 as a starting point for the modern survey, with important events occurring in Canada, Mexico, the United States, and the Caribbean. Hoerder and Faires successfully undermine the traditional, border-centric description of history, demonstrating with each author's contribution the ability of individuals to move across the North American continent, following economic opportunity and creating cultural spaces upon arrival.
Though it is a synthetic work, each author utilizes a good balance of contemporary secondary sources and primary documents. Additionally, most chapters contain several detailed anecdotes, keeping the reader interested, and demonstrating the author's main points. Authors also frequently take an interdisciplinary approach; the book collects some of the most cutting-edge analyses of migration patterns in its look at North America. Although each chapter proceeds chronologically, the editors' organization of the book by topic slightly undermines a more cohesive sense of the process of population movement into and across North [End Page 319] America. In addition, authors do occasionally delve into jargon; however, for such sophisticated arguments, the authors present their topics with remarkable clarity.
Based on the topic and content, this book is relevant for scholars in many disciplines. It is a must-read for immigration historians. Scholars in sociology and relevant ethnic studies should also strongly consider Migrants and Migration. Additionally, individuals teaching survey courses in modern American history should definitely read this book. Although it may not result in radical changes to a survey curriculum, implementing some of the topics and adopting a more transnational approach would certainly add depth to any lecture on American history. The book is a bit too dense to use in an undergraduate classroom in its entirety, but advanced undergraduates would certainly understand individual chapters and benefit from their content. Overall, it is a well-written, enlightening account of dozens of population movements across modern North America that puts together current scholarship on migration in an interesting, readable manner.