Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America [Review: Daniel]

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America [Review: Daniel]

Contemporary Sociology
Volume 22, Number 3 (May 1993)
pages 381-382

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America, by Paul R. Spickard. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991. 532 pp. cloth ISBN: 0-299-12110-0. paper ISBN: 0-299-12114-3.

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California at Santa Barbara

As an ethnohistory conversant with sociological discourse, Paul Spickard’s Mixed Blood is not only a valuable resource for both historians and sociologists specializing in race and ethnic relations but also a welcome change from traditional social science litera- ture on this topic. These previous studies, by seeking to construct generalizable models from quantitative data, unfortunately have not taken into account the nuances of personal experience and subtleties of space and time. In Spickard’s study, however, intermarriage emerges as a multivariate historical process of attitudes and behavior which are derivative of not only intergroup, but also interpersonal, dynamics, as illustrated by the author’s rich anecdotal sources.

The main portion of Mixed Blood is devoted to a comparative study of the intermarriage patterns of Jewish, Japanese, and African Americans. This choice allows Spickard to highlight important contemporary variations in the strength of pluralism and integration, that is, the persistence and permeability of boundaries of gender, race, culture, ethnicity, and class as they relate to the pretwentieth century history of each of the three groups. Spickard’s analysis of the intergenerational increase in out-marriage by Jewish Americans, for example, clearly indicates that the boundary which formerly might have marked an intermarriage is less distinct than it had been among European- Americans from different ethnocultural backgrounds…

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