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Essays on the Politics of Solidarity in Multiracial America


This dissertation investigates how government policies influenced U.S. minority coalition formation in the 1960s and 1970s. I argue that the key to explaining this puzzle lies in ethnic elites’ strategic calculations, as influenced by historical legacies, policy changes, and variations. Chapter 2 examines why American minority mobilization emphasized race so much in the 1960s and 1970s. In leveraging the Chinese immigrant communities along the U.S.–Canadian border on the West Coast, I found that what makes the U.S. unique is its immigration and segregation policies. Chapter 3 investigates why Asian and Latin American national origin groups joined forces as Asian Americans and Latinos in the 1960s and 1970s. I explain the welfare state as an underappreciated mechanism that mobilized these intra-racial coalitions. Chapter 4 examines why inter-racial coalitions were rare or short-lived in the 1960s and 1970s. I found that although racial minority groups are often described collectively as people of color, their issues varied because they faced different policy challenges. Additionally, the misalignment of political agendas made coordinating actions among them difficult. Taken together, these three chapters highlight how combining a historical perspective and strategic analysis offers new insights into the contingent nature of minority coalition formation in the U.S. and beyond. The rich archival, organizational, and text data I assembled provide an example of how to undertake historical research on marginalized groups in a data-intensive way.

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