Ethnic Heritage in Mississippi
The Twentieth Century
A sweeping overview of the many diverse backgrounds that create the state's tapestry
Throughout its history, Mississippi has seen a small, steady stream of immigrants, and those identities—sometimes submerged, sometimes hidden—have helped shape the state in important ways. Amid renewed interest in identity, the Mississippi Humanities Council has commissioned a companion volume to its earlier book that studied ethnicity in the state from the period 1500-1900. This new book, Ethnic Heritage in Mississippi: The Twentieth Century, offers stories of immigrants overcoming obstacles, immigrants newly arrived, and long-settled groups witnessing a revitalized claim to membership. The book examines twentieth-century immigration trends, explores the reemergence of ethnic identity, and undertakes case studies of current ethnic groups.
Some of the groups featured in the volume include Chinese, Latino, Lebanese, Jewish, Filipino, South Asian, and Vietnamese communities. The book also examines Biloxi as a city that has long attracted a diverse population and takes a look at the growth in identity affiliation among people of European descent. The book is funded in part by a “We the People” grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Shana Walton has brought together a remarkable set of essays analyzing the ethnic heritage of Mississippi, a state with one of the smallest foreign-born populations in the nation. Does that mean that ethnicity is not important? This volume demonstrates that it is. Race has been the lens through which most scholars have viewed the state's history and culture, for quite legitimate reasons, but that focus should not ignore the state's fascinating ethnic groups whose lives and experiences complicate and enrich our understanding of the state's cultural heritage. This remarkable collection takes us from the state's earliest settlers--Native Americans--to more recent immigrant groups like Hindus and Latinos, and explores how immigration has changed over time. This is pioneering work, important to both scholars and the general public, and readers will take away a new understanding of the state's changing contemporary culture and the ways new immigrant groups have found a place in the Magnolia State.- Randy J. Sparks
Ethnic Heritage in Mississippi: The Twentieth Century is a landmark study that traces the diverse ethnic worlds that have defined Mississippi from the colonial period to the present. Shana Walton views the state as a meeting ground for these cultures, and her book introduces us first to French, Spanish, English, German, Native American, and African families who were 'colonizers,' then to the contemporary world of Croatian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Jewish, Filipina, Latino, and Hindu families. This book carries us beyond the popular view of Mississippi as a world solely defined by black and white people by revealing in exquisite detail the wonderful mix of people who call the state 'home. '- William R. Ferris