amalgamation (history)

Amalgamation is a now largely archaic term for the intermarriage and interbreeding of different ethnicities or races. In the English-speaking world, the term was in use into the twentieth century. In the United States, it was partly replaced after 1863 by the term miscegenation. While the term amalgamation could refer to the interbreeding of different white as well as non-white ethnicities, the term miscegenation referred specifically to the interbreeding of whites and non-whites, especially African Americans.

The term amalgamation was derived from metallurgy (see amalgam). It has been linked to the metaphor of the melting pot, which also originated in the US, and which described the cultural assimilation and intermarriage of different ethnicities. The intermarriage of whites with African Americans and, to a lesser degree, other non-whites was until recently in social disfavor in the United States, despite the long history of informal liaisons between white men and nonwhite women during the long years of slavery and after emancipation. Until 1967, interracial marriages were prohibited in many US states through anti-miscegenation laws.


See also book: The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory.