# 8.11: Final reflection

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While these various European founders of the United States were working out their destinies, the U.S. was also a destination for immigrants from all over the world. Throughout the 19th and much of the 20th century, the majority of immigrants were from Europe, first from northern and western Europe, then from southern and eastern Europe, and then once again from western Europe. From the 1960s on, the majority of immigrants have come from Asia and Latin America.

Given the passage of time and the huge influx of immigrants, it might not seem believable that these founding nations would have maintained their distinct cultural identities. Haven’t they surely been diluted and transformed, asks Woodard, by the tens of millions of immigrants moving into the various regions? It might seem, says Woodard, that by now these original cultures must have “melted into one another, creating a rich, pluralistic stew.”

However, cultural geographers such as Zelinsky (1973) have found reasons to believe that once the settlers of a region leave their cultural mark, newcomers are more likely to assimilate the dominant culture of the region. The newcomers surely bring with them their own cultural legacies, foods, religions, fashions, and ideas, suggests Woodard, but they do not replace the established ethos.

In American Nations, Woodard argues that the divisions in American politics can be understood in large part by understanding the cultural divisions that have been part of the United States since its founding. These divisions can help us understand regional differences in basic sentiments such trust vs. distrust of government. They can also help us understand why certain regions of the country are for or against gun control, environmental regulation, or the regulation of financial institutions, and so on, or for or against particular Congressional legislation.

## Application

1. Whether you are an American citizen, U.S. resident, or international student … which, if any, of the American national values discussed in the chapter are important where you come from? Which, if any, are unimportant?
2. Based on this history of the United States, what adjustments are necessary to the idea of a dominant American culture?
3. If you are not an American citizen or U.S. resident, how might the lessons of this chapter apply to your own country?

### References

Althen, G. (2003). American ways: A guide for foreigners in the United States. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Bigelow, B. (1980). Roots and regions: A summary definition of the cultural geography of America. Journal of Geography, 79(6), 218-229.

Boorstin, D. J. (1958). The Americans: The colonial experience. New York: Random House.

Fischer, D. H. (1989). Albion’s seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press.

Garreau, J. (1981). The nine nations of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Woodard, C. (2011). American nations: A history of the eleven rival regional cultures of North America. New York: Viking.

Zelinsky, W. (1973). The cultural geography of the United States. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.