Hope or Threat? Migrants in History, Popular Culture, and the Media
Immigration plays a central role in the American founding narrative, but American perception and reception of immigrants have been ambivalent and attitudes have ranged from open arms to distrust. Immigrants have been welcomed as new citizens or rejected as a menace to national values and culture. Mixed feelings about migrants have been common also in other countries of immigration around the world. Current debates about migration and refugee crises in Europe and the Mediterranean are part of a broader historical phenomenon. Perspectives change over time, but there is also a recurrent repertoire of topics and stereotypes which have proven flexible and adaptable to changing cultural, social, and political circumstances. This seminar will examine current debates about the reception of migrants and the changing images of particular migrant groups in historical context. We will analyze migration to the United States and other countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia in comparison, looking at parallel developments, similarities, and differences.