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2020 Distinguished Annual Lecture: Erika Lee

Xenophobia in America: How We Got Here and What's At Stake 

The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But as award-winning author and historian Erika Lee will discuss, the U.S. is also a nation of xenophobia. An irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their “strange and foreign ways.” Americans’ anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America. Drawing from her new book, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States, Lee forces us to confront this history and explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America.

Free and open to all. Book signing to follow, with books available for purchase courtesy of Amherst Books. Free parking available. More information: Poster | Contact | Facebook

Erika Lee

Erika Lee is a Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies and Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Recently awarded an  Andrew Carnegie Fellowship and named Incoming Vice President of the Organization of American Historians, she is the author of three award-winning books as well as the recently-published America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States. Called “unflinching and powerful” by Carol Anderson (author of White Rage) and “essential reading” by Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be an Antiracist), America for Americans has received a Kirkus Star and named to best books lists by Time, USA Today, and Ms. Magazine. 

Location and Access Information

Integrative Learning Center is located in the central part of the UMass Amherst campus, nearby the UMass Parking Garage (1 Campus Center Way, $1.75/hr). There are several bus stops nearby. More information: bus schedule and a campus map with the venues and nearby parking indicated (including free parking within 0.2 - 0.4 miles). This venue is wheelchair accessible. To request additional accommodations, email More information: accessible parkingcampus accessibility map.

The Distinguished Annual Lecture

The Distinguished Annual Lecture celebrates the 1996 establishment of the UMass/Five College Graduate Program in History. Offered every academic year for more than 20 years, this signature annual lecture has been delivered by some of the nation’s foremost historians. This event is presented by the UMass/Five College Graduate Program in History, the UMass Department of History, and Five Colleges, Inc. Cosponsored by the Bayanihan Association of America; Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts; Cambodian Community of Amherst and Friends; Chinese Association of Western Massachusetts; Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission; Five College Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program; Jones Library; Pioneer Valley Project; Pioneer Valley Workers Center; Resistance Center for Peace and Justice; Trans Asylum Seeker Support Network; and the following UMass Amherst entities: American Studies Program; Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies; Center for Justice, Law, and Societies; Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success; Civic Engagement and Service-Learning; English Department; Legal Studies Program; Social Thought and Political Economy Program; Sociology Department.