One of America’s greatest anthropologists, Clifford Geertz, described the way anthropologists write about the culture of the people they study as “thick description.”  You don’t learn about others by skimming off the top.  You have to get into the thick of things, the nitty-gritty of a culture.  But there are also limits.  Despite all the differences, there is an awful lot that brings people together.  No matter how diverse their backgrounds may be, immigrants share many of the same experiences – including similar hardships and challenges in both the old country and new.  But before identifying what they all have in common, we should first try to learn about what makes them different.  To describe their differences and the many experiences that bring them together has been our project for this semester.

To that end, our web site has divided by “themes” in order to compare Jews at the end of the nineteenth century, and Mexicans at the end of the twentieth.





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