The Serbian great migration: Serbs in the Chicago region, 1880s to 1930s
AuthorAlter, Peter Thomas
AdvisorGarcia, Juan R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis work is the study of the dual movement of a people. Firstly, the Serbs physically migrated, starting in the 1880s and concluding in the 1910s, from the Balkans to the Chicago region. Secondly, by the late 1930s, these immigrants had moved racially from being an indeterminate racial group to being part of the white race. When Serbs came to the Chicago region, Protestant native-born Americans did not consider them to be white. From the Serbs' arrival around the turn of the century to the early 1930s, Chicago area Progressives and residents constructed a racialized view of these Serbs. The Serbs, according to these mostly Anglo Americans, were uncivilized. Middle-class immigrant Serbs, declaring a need for racial improvement, constructed themselves as civilized and white. These Serbs pointed back to centuries of Serbian civilization and culture as proof of their fitness to participate in Anglo-American society. Serbian history showed they were a truly democratic and civilized people, not the tribal savages that Anglo-Americans saw. Immigrant Serbs, through benefit and fraternal organizations, also promoted the Yugoslav ideal as the path toward civilization. Creating a Yugoslav kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes would show Americans that all Serbs everywhere were democratic and civilized. With the rise of xenophobia and racism during the 1920s, the United States experienced a crisis in race and citizenship. Serbs stood at the crossroads of this crisis. While middle-class Serbs continued promoting themselves as white and civilized, Anglo Americans realized that they too could benefit from these Serbian middle class' efforts. The Serbs, Anglo-Americans argued, should become citizens and pledge their allegiance to the United States. Through this process of citizenship, the Serbs would learn to be good Americans, a key to becoming white. As part of the white race, the Serbs would no longer present a challenge to Anglo-American racial hegemony.
Degree ProgramGraduate College