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Irregular and Guerrilla Warfare during the Civil War  

Matthew M. Stith

Irregular and guerrilla warfare decisively shaped the course, consequences, and nature of the American Civil War. As Confederate irregular efforts intensified, so deepened the level and tenacity of the US war against increasingly large portions of the Confederate South. While never fully committed, supported, or thorough, the Confederacy waged an irregular war in pockets of the South that ultimately backfired. The irregular war forced a harder, and, in some places, total war upon the Confederate civilian population, which brought the war to an end faster and indelibly shaped the nature of the larger conflict. Supporters of the United States—Unionists—lived throughout the South, and they formed something of a fourth theater of war by foisting upon the Confederacy their own internal civil war from Texas to North Carolina, one that was intricately connected to the larger irregular war. Civilians rapidly became a significant focus of the guerrilla war, and those living in the wartime South found themselves in a years-long fight for survival. In a manner of speaking, they became combatants. In the end, the irregular war alone might not have decided the Civil War’s outcome, but it helped redefine the course and consequences of the larger conflict.

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Koreans and the Early Cold War  

Susie Woo

The Cold War turned hot in Asia. Wars in Korea and Vietnam evidenced that the Cold War, the ideological contest between democracy and communism, met violent ends in the Pacific. While considered one of America’s “forgotten wars,” what unfolded in Korea sent geopolitical ripples around the world and had devastating consequences that would forever change Korea. The war claimed over three million Korean lives, the majority civilians. The United States played an outsized role in the conflict. The United States sent 350,000 servicemen, making up 90 percent of UN forces in Korea. What began as an effort to contain communism north of the 38th parallel, a dividing line drawn up by two US colonels in 1945, shifted to remove communism from the peninsula entirely. Fighting escalated in October 1950 when the People’s Republic of China entered on the side of North Korea. Between 1950 and 1953, the United States dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on the peninsula, which is roughly the size of Minnesota. An August 1953 armistice brought an end to combat but not the war. Korea remained divided, only this time with more than half the population either killed, wounded, missing, or permanently separated from their families. The unended war went on to shape the geopolitical landscape of US-Korea relations, expanded the Korean diaspora, and had a disproportionate impact upon Korean civilians, especially women and children. In the United States, the violence of war was obscured by media that figured Koreans as wartime waifs, assimilating adoptees, and talented entertainers, like the Korean Children’s Choir and Kim Sisters, representations that fostered internationalist scripts of rescue and care. Images of Koreans as model Cold War citizens helped Americans move on from the war, while overwriting the actual experiences of displaced Korean women and children. Between 1953 and 1965, an estimated 7,700 Korean “war brides” and six thousand Korean and mixed-race adoptees arrived in interracial households scattered across a still-segregated United States. The migration of Korean women and children was directly tied to US militarization in South Korea. Camptowns catering to US servicemen that cropped up near bases during the war became permanent sites of prostitution. The presumption that Korean brides were former prostitutes was symptomatic of how the US military impacted the social construction of Korean women. Also resulting from US militarization was the birth of “GI babies.” The mixed-race children of US servicemen and Korean women anchored postwar missionary appeals for Americans to adopt from Korea, campaigns that opened the path to transnational adoptions. Ultimately, what transpired in Korea placed civilians at the crossroads of the Cold War navigating life in Korea, the United States, and spaces in between.

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Latin Jazz and Salsa  

Raúl A. Fernandez

Latin jazz derives from a combination of the rhythms of Caribbean popular dance music with the harmonies and timbres of various US jazz styles. It was the result of decades of interaction between American and Cuban music styles. Salsa refers to a new approach to Afro-Caribbean dance music that emerged in the 1980s, a mixture with deep roots in Afro-Cuban music and other musical dance forms from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. It later became an umbrella term to reference a wide variety of Latin music styles. Salsa was viewed at its birth as a manifestation of a growing Latino identity in the United States.

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American Orientalism  

Osamah F. Khalil

Orientalism is an established academic discipline as well as a discourse. In Europe and the United States, Orientalist discourse was reproduced in academic studies, literature, popular culture, and policy circles. American Orientalism shares a number of characteristics with its European progenitors. The persistent representation of the broader East as an inferior, irrational, and emotional “other” reflected and reified disparities in power that then informed the production of knowledge about these vast regions and their inhabitants. American missionaries, social scientists, and counterinsurgency experts used Orientalism to justify their attempts to reshape the broader East in the image of the United States. In his seminal work, Orientalism, Edward Said examined the vast “Orient” as a geographic imaginary of the “Occident.” While he largely focused on Britain and France, Said also discussed American Orientalism and its manifestations in the academy, political discourse, and popular culture. In the decades since Said published Orientalism, scholars have embraced, critiqued, and expanded on its assertions. Yet American Orientalism as a discourse and practice persists and has proven resilient to challenges.

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The Chicana and Chicano Movement  

Rosie Bermudez

The Chicana and Chicano movement or El Movimiento is one of the multiple civil rights struggles led by racialized and marginalized people in the United States. Building on a legacy of organizing among ethnic Mexicans, this social movement emerged in the decades of the 1960s and 1970s to continue the struggle to secure basic human needs and the fulfillment of their civil rights. To be Chicana and Chicano during this era represented an assertion of ethnic and cultural pride, self-determination, and a challenge to the status quo. Those who claimed this political identity sought to contest the subordinate position of people of Mexican origin in America. They responded to the effects and persistence of structural inequalities such as racism, discrimination, segregation, poverty, and the lack of opportunities to rise out of these conditions. Militant direct action and protest were hallmarks of this sustained effort. A flourishing intellectual and creative atmosphere existed within the movement that included the proliferation and combination of multiple ideological and political positions, including cultural nationalism, internationalism, feminism, and leftism. A major facet was rooted in historical recovery, analysis of conditions, and cultural awareness, represented within a wide-ranging print culture, and various forms of expression such as political theater, visual arts, poetry, and music. Constituted by several organizations and local movements, El Movimiento participants varied in age, generation, region, class, and sexuality. Several long-standing issues, including labor and land disputes that were directly linked to a brutal history of exploitation and dispossession, were grappled with. A lack of political representation and substandard education fueled struggles for an alternative political party and education. Further struggles stemmed from poverty coupled with police violence and suppression. Others took on anti-war efforts, and still others tackled gender inequality which reverberated throughout.

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Chinese Americans and Natural Resource Extraction in the American West, 1850s–1900  

Ashanti Shih

Chinese migrants, through taking part in the extraction of natural resources, played a key role in the economic and environmental transformation of the American West in the late 19th through early 20th centuries. The desire to mine gold in California, in combination with domestic unrest within southeastern China, prompted the first mass migration of Chinese to the United States in the 1850s. While some Chinese migrants continued to mine for gold long after other independent prospectors had given up, the vast majority of Chinese migrants transitioned into wage laborers who worked for larger mining corporations or for other companies seeking to capitalize on the vast natural resources the American West had to offer. Throughout the second half of the 19th century, Chinese men became important producers in logging, fishing, and canning, and mining even beyond gold. They often brought their own knowledge and technologies with them into these jobs. Despite their organization into “gang labor” and strong community and transnational ties, Chinese workers became an exploited laboring class that was soon targeted by working-class Whites and others who perceived themselves to be in competition with Chinese workers for these jobs. The resulting exclusionary policies had a significant effect, and Japanese, Korean, Mexican, and Filipino labor gradually displaced Chinese as the dominant labor force supporting environmental and economic change in the American West.

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Cultural Heritage in the United States  

Alicia Ebbitt McGill

A complex concept with a range of meanings and definitions, cultural heritage, often referred to simply as heritage, is characterized by the myriad ways individuals, groups, institutions, and political entities value and engage with manifestations of culture and history. Such manifestations encompass both tangible and intangible forms of the past, including cultural objects, landscapes, historic sites, memories, daily practices, and historical narratives. Heritage is tied to personal and group identity and can bring people together or be used to marginalize groups. People engage with heritage through behaviors that range from visits to culturally significant places, traditions, education programs, scholarly research, government policies, preservation, and tourism. Heritage is culturally constructed and dynamic. Critical heritage scholarship since the late 20th century highlights ways societal values, political structures, and power dynamics shape how people define, engage with, utilize, and manage cultural heritage across the globe. Though much critical heritage scholarship emphasizes that dominant Western value systems have long influenced heritage management, it also draws attention to the diverse ways humans connect with the past and the cultural practices communities and individuals employ to resist hegemonic heritage ideology and processes. Heritage scholarship is interdisciplinary, drawing on methods and theories from fields such as archeology, anthropology, history, public history, architecture, historic preservation, museum studies, and geography to examine how people interact with “the past” in the present.

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The Role of Women in US Foreign Relations  

Molly Wood

The history of American foreign relations encompasses the study of formal diplomatic relationships between the United States and other sovereign nation states, including analysis of US foreign policy debates, strategies and decisions, and the officials who make and implement those decisions. American foreign policy, in the service and protection of American interests around the world, evolves over time to address ever-changing global environments and events. Like policymakers, who respond in different ways to unique events over time, scholars have steadily expanded both the breadth and depth of foreign relations history as a field of scholarship. By the 1980s, historians began to ask new questions and apply methods from the practice of women’s history, a genre of history that developed in response to the changing social, political, and cultural context in the United States by the 1960s. While women have increasingly held professional positions in formal diplomacy through the 20th century and into the 21st as policymakers, military officials, and other institutional roles, broader approaches to, and questions about, the many more informal or unconventional ways the United States interacts with the rest of the world reveals a much more prominent role for women. The distinction between women and gender is a significant one. The examples provided focus on women as active agents in US foreign relations, either individually or in groups, whether gaining influence in formal professional pathways, through less apparent sites of international activism and interaction, or even less visible and informal networks and partnerships. Some historians refer to “soft power” to describe and explain the kind of behind-the-scenes activity in which many American women have participated through the history of American foreign relations.

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African American Radio  

Teisha Dupree-Wilson

Since its debut in the 1920s, African American radio has remained a permanent fixture in American popular culture. In the early years of radio, networks began to broadcast limited radio programming dedicated to showcasing “black” characters. Although these broadcasts were partially geared toward the black community, almost all of the featured performers were white actors who caricatured black culture and African American speech. In response to the negative black imagery presented in early radio, African American broadcasters sought to counter this problematic representation with programming produced and performed by black entertainers, who evoked cultural pride for the black community. The black community’s commitment to positively transforming African American presence in radio, led to a continuous evolution of this important medium. Such an evolution included the presentation and celebration of black entertainment though music and talk radio, the rise of “black-appeal” radio stations, which supported causes related to African American civil rights and cultural pride, the exposure of African American music to interracial audiences, and the emergence of African American disc jockeys as cultural heroes and community leaders. Significantly, African American radio’s transformation produced an increase in black female broadcasters and African American radio station owners.

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Asian American Youth and Mexican American Youth in Los Angeles before World War II  

Isabela Seong Leong Quintana

Though relatively little is known about them when compared with their adult counterparts, the experiences of Chinese American youth and Mexican American youth in Los Angeles were significantly shaped by living in the developing urban city. More independently as they became older, these ethnic youth navigated social structures that informed the racial, gendered, and class orderings of the city. As both Asian American and Mexican American adult populations in the Los Angeles area boomed before World War II, so did their youth populations, reflecting wars, changes in immigration law and policy, and the steady growth of the region’s railroad, manufacturing, and agriculture industries. With lives intimately tied to adults’ lives, both Asian American youth and Mexican American youth were a mix of recent arrivals from outside the United States and individuals who were born within its national borders. Their presences overlapped with those of their parents and other adults, in both private and public spaces where paid and unpaid labor took place. In ways that reflect the cultures of their respective communities of the era, young people utilized city spaces in different ways as they attended school, worked, socialized, and participated in community events and activities. Excluded from white-only institutions and social organizations, Asian American and Mexican American youth formed their own respective organizations and clubs. They brought dynamic life to Angeleno spaces as they navigated social and community expectations along with rapidly changing cultural and consumer trends.