Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Sumita Pahwa

Reader 2

Thomas Kim

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© 2018 Matilda Msall


The first part of this paper analyzes the framing of Chinese and Irish immigrants when they first came to the United States. I work to prove that the frames imposed on these immigrant groups were very similar. One may expect, therefore, that similar framing would result in similar political responses , but the outcomes for Irish immigrants and Chinese immigrants were drastically different. After identifying similarities in framing, this paper then examines other variables contributing to the two groups’ different outcomes. The second part of this paper agrees with existing research, which argues that Irish immigrants assimilated into American society by securing a place into the socio-political category of “whiteness,” through taking advantage of and participating in existing racial sentiments and oppression to distinguish themselves from African Americans.4 While previous research concludes here, I push further to put this theory into conversation with why Chinese immigrants were excluded, to argue that Irish assimilation presented itself because of the political environment and time period at the time of Irish immigration arrival. The Chinese immigrants, by contrast, had no such political opportunity because they primarily arrived in Western free states and, by the time Chinese immigration was peaking, slavery was weakening. Thus, the difference in political environment at the time of the greatest influx of these two groups explains the difference in the trajectory of their assimilation.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.