“How the crowded neighborhoods of New York’s Lower East Side gave rise to cross-racial and cross ethnic bonds before 1930
Examining race and ethnic relations through an intersectional lens, Shirley J. Yee’s An Immigrant Neighborhood investigates the ways that race, class, and gender together shaped concepts of integration and assimilation as well as concepts of whiteness and citizenship in lower Manhattan during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In contrast to accounts of insulated neighborhoods and ethnic enclaves, Yee’s study unearths the story of working-class urban dwellers of various ethnic groups—Chinese, Jews, Italians, and Irish—routinely interacting in social and economic settings.
Recounting the lived experiences in these neighborhoods, Yee’s numerous, fascinating anecdotes—such as the story of an Irishman who served for many years as the only funeral director for Chinese residents—detail friendships, business relationships, and sexual relationships that vividly counter the prevailing idea that ethnic groups mixed only in ways that were marked by violence and hostility.”
“At the root of the race problem were shifting meanings of whiteness.”