Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Although immigration is an essential element in the American national story, it presents difficulties for constructing national membership and national identity in terms of shared intrinsic values. In this article, I analyze speeches made at naturalization ceremonies during two time periods (1950 – 1970 and 2003 – present) to examine the evolving roles of immigrants, as articulated to immigrants themselves. Naturalization ceremonies are a unique research site because the usually implied nationalist content is made explicit to brand new members of the nation. I find a shift in the framing from immigrants as potential liabilities and weak links in the earlier period to immigrants as morally superior redeemers of the American nation in the later period. I discuss the significance of this shift and the relationship between the roles presented at naturalization ceremonies and the discourse found elsewhere in the public sphere.


This is the author's manuscript of a work originally published in Social Science Quarterly, available at DOI 10.1080/13621025.2012.716211



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.