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Case Studies in this Unit

The ideal of a shared American identity has both strengthened and weakened us as a nation. Our changing beliefs and attitudes about what it means to “belong” carry notions about who is “us” and who is “them.” These attitudes have historically targeted those perceived to not belong, to not be one of “us.” Some of our nation’s most antidemocratic moments occurred when our perceptions of belonging were stoked by fear and insecurity. Consequently, beliefs and attitudes about American belonging have often materialized in the vulnerable and transient patterns of immigration and migration.