[Blackstudies-l] Talk on "We the People: The 500-Year Battle over Who is American"

Justin Behrend behrend at geneseo.edu
Fri Nov 1 10:32:27 EDT 2019

Please join us for a talk by Dr. Ben Railton, a professor of English from
Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, who is the author of *We the
People: The 500-Year Battle over Who is American *(Rowan, 2019). This event
is co-sponsored by American Studies and the History Department, and will be
held on Thursday, November 14 at 7:00 pm in South 338. Books will be
available for purchase.

The Constitution begins with those deceptively simple words, but how do
Americans define that "We"? In this talk based on his new book *We the
People*, Ben Railton will argue that throughout our history two competing
yet interconnected concepts have battled to define our national identity
and community: exclusionary and inclusive visions of who gets to be an
American. From the Revolutionary period's debates on African American
slavery to 20th-century controversies around Filipino Americans and
Japanese internment and 21st-century fears of Muslim Americans (among many
other eras and histories), time and again this defining battle has shaped
our society and culture. Carefully exploring and critically examining those
histories, and the key stories and figures they feature, is vital to
understanding America—and to making sense of the Trump era, when the battle
over who is an American can be found in every significant debate and moment.

Justin Behrend, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair of the History Department
SUNY Geneseo
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