According to Eric Kauffman, is America a civic or ethnic nation?

Question:

According to Eric Kauffman, is America a civic or ethnic nation?

Civic vs. Ethnic Nationalism:

In studying the concept of nationhood and nationalism, scholars have found that national identity tends to foment around one of two traits. In an ethnic nation, membership in the nation is defined by ethnicity. In a civic nation, membership is defined by citizenship, without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, etc.

Answer and Explanation:

Eric Kauffman (a professor at the University of London) has argued that America's claim to be a civic nation is not so straightforward, and that the reality is that the United States was founded on many principles of ethnic nationalism.

According to Kauffman, the United States was founded with a strong sense of ethnic belonging, specifically built around Anglo-Saxon ancestry. From 1776-1960, in Kauffman's interpretation, only Anglo-Americans were seen as ''typical'' or ''true'' Americans. This is most obviously seen in the history of slavery and racial segregation against African Americans and the displacement and oppression of Native Americans, as well as nativist fears against German, Irish, Italian, Polish, Muslim, Chinese, and Japanese immigrants, among others.

After 1865, it was true that more people could achieve citizenship and legal participation within the United States, but also true that non-Anglo citizens were often viewed as less American than Anglo citizens. Kauffman argues that this situation did not really change until the 1960s and the civil rights movement, which did finally re-create the United States as a civic nation, albeit one with a more complex identity than it likes to admit.


Learn more about this topic:

Civic Nationalism vs. Ethnic Nationalism

from Introduction to Political Science: Help and Review

Chapter 14 / Lesson 26
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