Browsing by Subject "racial thinking"

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  • Huhta, Aleksi (Työväen historian ja perinteen tutkimuksen seura, 2021)
    This dissertation examines the racial thinking of Finnish radicals in the early twentieth century United States. It studies how and why Finnish radical immigrants used racial ideas to describe and explain human difference. It also examines how and why Finnish thinking on race changed during this time. The study focuses on the time period between 1900 and the late 1930s. During these years, Finns formed one of the largest immigrant groups in the Socialist Party, the IWW and the Communist Party. Yet, the ex tensive research on the U.S. Left’s troubled relationship with race has largely ignored these immigrant radicals. Studies on Euro pean immigrants’ racial thought, on the other hand, have often not paid due attention to radical immigrants’ ideas on race. The main sources for this study are six Finnish-language labor news papers that were published in the early 1900s in the United States. The present work also makes use of non-fiction books, memoirs, pamphlets and other printed material that was written by both Finnish and American radicals in the United States. This study is premised on the notion that race is a product of history, not of nature. It is a historically constructed set of be liefs about the humankind’s division into groups with inherent and intrinsic mental characteristics. The study maps how ideas about race were expressed, debated, questioned and contested in the Finnish immigrant press. Racial ideas are analyzed as pro-444 445 ducts of interactive and political processes, not as closed ideolo gical constructs. The cross-border character of these processes is emphasized. The study contributes to Finnish-American historiography, migration history and studies of race and ethnicity. First, this stu dy challenges the well-worn idea that Finnish immigrants were a particularly “clannish” immigrant group. The study will illustrate that their political concerns and activities went well beyond their ethnic community and that their thinking drew on varied intel lectual influences. Second, this dissertation asserts that European immigrants were active agents in the construction of racial kno wledge. They were not simple conformers to American racism. Finally, the study illustrates that Finnish-American racial thin king drew on a variety of intellectual sources, including Marxist notions of historical development, Darwinism, media’s lynching coverage and the Communist Party’s antiracism. This has broa der implications for studies of race and ethnicity. It challenges the notion that race and racism have a single source or origin (for example, racial science or colonial encounters). This study contends that race has a more complex intellectual history, which also goes to explain its continuing pervasiveness and mutability.