White Enough to Be American?: Race Mixing, Indigenous People, and the Boundaries of State and Nation

White Enough to Be American?: Race Mixing, Indigenous People, and the Boundaries of State and Nation

by Lauren L. Basson


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White Enough to Be American?: Race Mixing, Indigenous People, and the Boundaries of State and Nation by Lauren L. Basson

Racial mixture posed a distinct threat to European American perceptions of the nation and state in the late nineteenth century, says Lauren Basson, as it exposed and disrupted the racial categories that organized political and social life in the United States. Offering a provocative conceptual approach to the study of citizenship, nationhood, and race, Basson explores how racial mixture challenged and sometimes changed the boundaries that defined what it meant to be American.

Drawing on government documents, press coverage, and firsthand accounts, Basson presents four fascinating case studies concerning indigenous people of "mixed" descent. She reveals how the ambiguous status of racially mixed people underscored the problematic nature of policies and practices based on clearly defined racial boundaries. Contributing to timely discussions about race, ethnicity, citizenship, and nationhood, Basson demonstrates how the challenges to the American political and legal systems posed by racial mixture helped lead to a new definition of what it meant to be American—one that relied on institutions of private property and white supremacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807831434
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 02/26/2008
Edition description: 1
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Lauren L. Basson is assistant professor of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

Table of Contents


Note on Terminology
1. "Mixed Blood" Americans: The Jane Waldron and Barney Traversee Allotment Disputes
2. Métis Americans: Louis Riel and the Northwest Territories
3. Annexed Americans: Robert Wilcox, Home Rule, and Self-Government for Hawaii
4. Anarchist Americans: Lucy Parsons, Foreign Bodies, and American Soil

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From the Publisher

Basson makes an important contribution to our understanding of how constructions of race helped define the boundaries of American national identity in the late nineteenth century. Her illuminating case studies of mixed-race indigenous political activists make clear that as the United States expanded territorially, a willingness to uphold white supremacy and the primacy of private property became increasingly crucial to definitions of American national identity.—Renee Romano, Wesleyan University

There is a considerable body of scholarship dedicated to the question of the legal standing of Indian nations through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This study fills the void that exists around our understandings of cultural ideas about property, 'race,' indigeneity, and cross-cultural relationships. More broadly, Basson makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of how the existence of indigenous people of mixed descent influenced mainstream understandings of the United States as a nation.—Patricia Grimshaw, University of Melbourne

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