What We Are Reading Today: Gateway State by Sarah Miller-Davenport

Updated 24 March 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Gateway State by Sarah Miller-Davenport

  • Once a racially problematic overseas colony, by the 1960s, Hawaii had come to symbolize John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier

Gateway State explores the development of Hawai’i as a model for liberal multiculturalism and a tool of American global power in the era of decolonization. The establishment of Hawaii statehood in 1959 was a watershed moment, not only in the ways Americans defined their nation’s role on the international stage but also in the ways they understood the problems of social difference at home. Hawaii’s remarkable transition from territory to state heralded the emergence of postwar multiculturalism, which was a response both to independence movements abroad and to the limits of civil rights in the US.

Once a racially problematic overseas colony, by the 1960s, Hawaii had come to symbolize John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier. This was a more inclusive idea of who counted as American at home and what areas of the world were considered to be within the US sphere of influence. Statehood advocates argued that Hawaii and its majority Asian population could serve as a bridge to Cold War Asia — and as a global showcase of American democracy and racial harmony. Business leaders and policymakers worked to institutionalize and sell this ideal by capitalizing on Hawaii’s diversity. 

Asian Americans in Hawaii never lost a perceived connection to Asia. Instead, their ethnic difference became a marketable resource to help other Americans navigate a decolonizing world.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Red Meat Republic by Joshua Specht

Updated 23 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Red Meat Republic by Joshua Specht

  • Joshua Specht puts people at the heart of his story — the big cattle ranchers who helped to drive the nation’s westward expansion

By the late 19th century, Americans rich and poor had come to expect high-quality fresh beef with almost every meal. 

Beef production in the US had gone from small-scale, localized operations to a highly centralized industry spanning the country, with cattle bred on ranches in the rural West, slaughtered in Chicago, and consumed in the nation’s rapidly growing cities. 

Red Meat Republic tells the remarkable story of the violent conflict over who would reap the benefits of this new industry and who would bear its heavy costs, says a review on the University Press website.

Joshua Specht puts people at the heart of his story — the big cattle ranchers who helped to drive the nation’s westward expansion, the meatpackers who created a radically new kind of industrialized slaughterhouse, and the stockyard workers who were subjected to the shocking and unsanitary conditions described by Upton Sinclair in his novel The Jungle. 

Specht brings to life a turbulent era marked by Indian wars, Chicago labor unrest, and food riots in the streets of New York.