Bayor, Ronald H., ed. Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans. (Volume 1-4). Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood, 2011.
This 4-volume encyclopedia brings together for the first time reference information on the “Newest Americans”, the new immigrant groups hailing from 50 different countries around the world that have become an intrinsic part of the social, economic and cultural fabric of the Unites States. What sets this study apart from other academic studies on immigrants, second-generation immigrants and newly naturalized Americans is its focus on those immigrants who arrived to the United States after 1965, the year that saw the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act which abolished the national origins quota system in place since the 1920s. This landmark legislation opened the gates to a new immigration that re-shaped American society.
Written by a wide array of historians, sociologists, political scientists and anthropologists with roots in the countries under discussion, the encyclopedia is not only a great bibliographical source material, but also an innovative contribution to the re-conceptualization of immigrant studies in the Unites States.The section on the Dominican Republic was written by Sociologist Ramona Hernández, Historian Anthony Stevens-Acevedo with the contribution of CUNY DSI Assistant Librarian Nelson Santana. This concise and well-documented section includes a historical chronology from 1492 to 2009 which briefly mentions Juan Rodríguez, one of the first-known Dominican immigrants in New York City. (Rodríguez arrived in a Dutch ship in 1613).Consequently, the background information on history is comprised of the following thematic sections: The Spaniards and the First European Colony of the Americas, The Africans and the Birth of Slavery in the Americas, A Colony That Became Two: La Española and the Birth of Saint Domingue, Dominicans and Haitians: 1822-1844, The Republic and Beyond, The First U. S. Military Occupation: 1916-1924, The Generalisimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, Juan Bosch and the First Constitutional Election, The 1965 Revolution and U.S. occupation. Furthermore, the authors provide an insightful history of Dominican migration to the United States by examining the causes of migration (push factors) while looking at little explored subjects such as the early migration through Ellis Island as well as immigration after 1965 tied in to structural changes in migration policy in the US and political upheaval at home.
The authors also discuss the demographic profile of the Dominican community in the United States. Relying on census statistics, the section highlights the size, composition, geographical distribution, patterns of settlement and economic attainment, poverty, unemployment and class compositions of Dominicans in the US.
In addition to examining social, economic and gender issues, the encyclopedia pays special attention to important manifestations of popular culture and music that have been brought to the United States by the Newer Americans. Like other immigrant groups in the US, Dominicans bring with them their musical heritage—and cuisine— and at times, re-create it with new, added ingredients that are part American part Dominican. This dichotomy is carefully disserted in an essay by CUNY DSI Assistant Librarian Nelson Santana.
The section ends with an appendix titled “Notable Dominicans”, a glossary, a reference section and a further reading list.
Multicultural America: An encyclopedia of the Newest Americans is an informative, reference tool that presents to the English-Speaking reader relevant historical, sociological and cultural data on the Dominican Republic and its people as well as on Dominican immigrants who call the US their new home.
Amaury Rodríguez, Library Research Assistant