Jewish Identities in the American West
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by Ellen Eisenberg
Jewish Identities in the American West fills a significant gap in racial identity scholarship.
Since the onset of New Western History in the 1980s, the complexity of race and ethnicity as it developed in the American West has increasingly been recognized by scholars and the wider public alike. Ethnic studies scholars have developed new perspectives on racial formation in the West that complicate older notions that often relied on binary descriptions, such as Black/white racialization. In the past few decades, these studies have relied on relational approaches that focus on how race is constructed, by both examining interactions with the white dominant group, and by exploring the multiple connections with other racial/ethnic groups in society. Historians are discovering new stories of racial construction, and revising older accounts, to integrate these new perspectives into the formation of racial and ethnic identities. This collection of essays on Jews in the American West advances this field in multiple ways. With essays that cover the period from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, these authors present a collective portrait of change over time that allows us to view the shifting nature of Jewish identity in the West, as well as the evolving frameworks for racial construction. Thorough and thought-provoking, Jewish Identities in the American West takes readers on a journey of racial and ethnic identity in the American West.