White Enough to Be American?

Race Mixing, Indigenous People, and the Boundaries of State and Nation

By Lauren L. Basson

256 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5837-0
    Published: February 2008
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8084-0
    Published: September 2012
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-0643-9
    Published: September 2012

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Racial mixture posed a distinct threat to European American perceptions of the nation and state in the late nineteenth century, says Lauren Basson, as it exposed and disrupted the racial categories that organized political and social life in the United States. Offering a provocative conceptual approach to the study of citizenship, nationhood, and race, Basson explores how racial mixture challenged and sometimes changed the boundaries that defined what it meant to be American.

Drawing on government documents, press coverage, and firsthand accounts, Basson presents four fascinating case studies concerning indigenous people of "mixed" descent. She reveals how the ambiguous status of racially mixed people underscored the problematic nature of policies and practices based on clearly defined racial boundaries. Contributing to timely discussions about race, ethnicity, citizenship, and nationhood, Basson demonstrates how the challenges to the American political and legal systems posed by racial mixture helped lead to a new definition of what it meant to be American--one that relied on institutions of private property and white supremacy.

About the Author

Lauren L. Basson is assistant professor of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

For more information about Lauren L. Basson, visit the Author Page.


"Moves us beyond this now-conventional focus on mixing between whites and African Americans, calling our attention to the ways in which indigenous, mixed-race populations and territories have long shaped American notions of state and nation."--American Historical Review

"Basson . . . [does not] lose sight of the important national story she has to tell about the porousness of U.S. racial boundaries."--Journal of American History

"An expertly researched and well-written monograph. . . . A rewarding examination of a complex and fascinating topic."--South Dakota History

"Offers [a] new perspective on racial thinking and white supremacy."--Nations and Nationalism

"Presents a compelling discussion of the juxtaposition of race and citizenship. . . . Demonstrates that the racial question in the US has been and continues to be one that is more complex than merely black and white."--CHOICE

"Provides a rich, in-depth analysis of racism in the American nation and state. . . . The theoretical and empirical contributions of this book extend far beyond the . . . period and cases being examined."--Law and Politics Book Review