No but seriously: Euro-American?

I have a really simply, totally stupid question here: what does the term ‘Euro-American’ mean? It surfaced recently in the comments on this blog and I have seen it elsewhere, but I honestly have no idea. Can someone tell me when/where this concept was first used, and what exactly it is supposed to do analytically and describe ethnographically?

I ask because my Ph.D. fieldwork was on gold mining in Papua New Guinea, and in particular about negotiations with Papua New Guinean land owners and Australian mine employees. The mine employees were mostly former colonial officers who have shifted from being ‘liasons’ between Australia’s imperial administration to mouthpieces for global capital. The topic, in other words, was highly ‘raced’ — although what it meant to be ‘white’ and ‘black’ varied depending on when and who you asked, white and black were still/thus the central terms I found in my fieldsite. I continue to use them, unapologetically, in my work even though/because they are part of a global discourse with deep roots in colonialism. (For more on race in PNG I cannot recommend Ira Bashkow’s superb “The Meaning of Whitemen” strongly enough).

I am always a bit suspicious of the new terms since they often refer to more or less the same thing that the old term referred to, but obscure its genealogy. The distinction between The North and The South, for instance, has always driven me nuts because PNG is north of Australia and in OZ/PNG English when expats leave Australia they ‘go south’. So in my field work The South is to the north of The North, which is really a pain.

This leads me to the term ‘Euro-American’ — is this just code for ‘white’? Because if so then it simultaneously denies and reinscribes the racial basis of the distinction it is making. Are white Australians and South Africans ‘Euro-American’? I ask because this term seems to obscure the global nature of white settler colonialism in favor of an emphasis on Europe and the New World. Are African-Americans ‘Euro-Americans’ because they are ‘American’ even if they are not ‘Euro’? How does the term compare with ‘Western’ or ‘WASP’?

Again, I ask because this term is not, as far as I know, one that is very widely used in the PNG/Australia context that I work on.

Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at rex@savageminds.org

39 thoughts on “No but seriously: Euro-American?

  1. My understanding is that Euro-American refers to people born in United States who are of European ancestry – i.e. their parents or grandparents or great-grandparents were born in UK or Europe. In Canada we use the term Euro-Canadian to refer to people born in Canada to parents of European descent. As opposed to, say, Afro-American (i.e. an American of African descent/ancestry). There is a possibility it also refers to people who migrated to United States from Europe. Not sure. That would likely be up to a researcher to define.

    So, does it mean white? Pretty much.

  2. Rex-

    Really interesting question.

    My impression is that the term comes from leftist and marxist discussions of geopolitics, usually in the context of “Euro-American hegemony.” It can certainly have racial overtones, and I think in that context it’s mostly intended not as a proxy for ‘the north’ but for ‘the west.’ Alternately, it could be taken as an attempt to append American foreign policy to colonial policy. In that sense, it has a specific historical reference: to the rise of American power immediately after World War II, the fall of the British empire and the rise of the Cold War.

    The problem with that is that I have hard time thinking of concrete instances where the US directly and openly usurped European colonial rule (maybe the Philippines.) The US was most directly involved in restructuring the Japanese empire, not a European one.

    I have no trouble seeing the validity of the concept, but then I’m about to do fieldwork in a Japanese base city. So, for example, there’s this memorial to a Japanese battleship built in 1902 by Vickers, which is right next to an American naval base with Aegis Destroyers going in and out of port.

  3. BTW, If you’re for some reason captivated by this line of argument, you might want to check out the essay by Bruce Cummings, “Archeology/Descent/Emergence: Japan between British and American Hegemony, 1900-50. ” in Japan in the World, Miyoshi & Harootunian, eds.

  4. Also, I googled the term and its usage there seems to be mostly about US-EU cooperation: “Euro-American Telematics Conference,” etc.

  5. So, it seems that there are two distinct uses for the term:

    1. Europe & America. This could be positive, as in the Euro-American Women’s Association which connects women in North America and Europe, or negative, as in Euro-American hegemony. In the positive sense it could include Latin America. In the negative sense it really means what some people refer to as “the North” which includes Japan.

    2. American’s of European origin (but, as far as I can tell, who aren’t Italian, Irish, or Jewish). In other words, “white.”

  6. “Euro-American” isn’t the worst term, I think. It seems to get used to index the same people as “white.” And, sure, it might obscure a little bit of genealogy that “white” doesn’t, as Rex suggests, but “white” and “black” are full of such a preposterously stark and polar metaphysics that they just beg to be jettisoned.

    Max B, to find instances of the US directly usurping European rule, you mostly have to look to the Western hemisphere, which is rife with them. As you suggest, the Philippines is one good example, but that war was mostly fought over Cuba.

  7. Max,

    If you’re going to be doing fieldwork in Yokosuka, give us a shout sometime. Ruth and I are long-term residents of Japan (going on 28 years), with a daughter who went to Annapolis and a friend who sells advertising for Stars & Stripes on and around the base.

    I often mention the Battleship Mikasa to visitors to our area. I can’t help wondering what Japanese who visit the battleship think when, after touring the inside, a monument to Admiral Togo’s victory over the Russians in the battle of Tsushima and the associated glory of the Japanese Imperial Navy, they climb up the ladder to the fantail from which they are looking straight at the American flag flying over the U.S. Navy Base.

    Be interesting if you can find out.

    Anyway, you can reach me via email at jlm@wordworks.jp or, if you are in Japan, by phoning 045-314-9324.

    Cheers,

    John

  8. Re “Euro-American”: we fairly often use this as a translation for the Japanese “Obeijin,” which means literally “European-American-people.” It pops up quite frequently in Japanese corporate and government documents and, yes, the prototypical image is a white man.

  9. P.S. The Japanese-English dictionary installed in my computer gives “Europeans and Americans; Westerners” as the definition of _Obeijin_.

    P.P.S. My curiosity stirred, I also checked my _Far East Pinyin Chinese-English Dictionary_ where I don’t find the full compound but do find _Ou Mei_ (Europe and America) written with the same Chinese characters as the _Obei_ in _Obeijin_.

    P.P.P. S. My rusty Chinese suggests that _Ou Mei Ren_ is a perfectly plausible bit of Mandarin. Perhaps Kerim can tell us if this is current usage in Taiwan.

  10. I agree with Kerim that there are two uses. However, I think that the second use, the ethnonym, is meant to include all American people of European descent, that is including “ethnic whites” (e.g. Catholics: Poles, Italians, Irish) and Jews. However, it is different from “white” in a crucial way: it mostly excludes “white” Latinos (c.f. US census categories).
    The term is therefore different from “white” because it identifies American people of European origin, distinguishing them from e.g. white Australians or white Argentinos, etc. It is also distinct from “white” in that it includes American people of (exclusively) European descent who have only recently, spottily, and with much regional variation become “white” to greater and lesser extents (people with origins in the Catholic European nations, Ashkenazi Jews).
    Ther term is then potentially useful for talking about the hegemony of a certain way of life not unfamiliar to people of European descent who hold U.S. passports and live in the (continental) United States. One could use it to talk about the relationship between US “whites” and European “whites” without collapsing either the US or Europe and thereby effacing the objective diversity of both regions. Of course, they are diverse for different reasons: the US is the legal home to Native Americans (on and off reservations), ethinic Hawaiians, people who live on Guam or Puerto Rico, Latinos who have lived on the continent (and on what became US territory) for a good long time, descendants of groups brought to the US for various forms of labor (slaves, coolies), and immigrants (of which the European kinds (Northern, Southern, and Eastern, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish) all of these kinds of people are US citizens and should properly be called American. “Europeans” includes people who have been subject to periodic migrations within the European continent, and now also to incoming people descended from former colonial subjects of those European powers (some of whom, Senegalese people from Dakar for example, are descended from French citizens, albeit Black ones, some of these non-white people who come from Africa actually ARE French citizens e.g. those from Mayotte).
    Is the term actually useful for thinking about social issues or movments? Unclear, but possible.

  11. Rex are you really asking the following question: “Are African-Americans ‘Euro-Americans’ because they are ‘American’ even if they are not ‘Euro’?” Huh? Your rhetorical pose here, ‘I have no idea what this term could possibly mean,’ strikes me as disingenuous. Clearly, you *do* have some idea what it could mean, viz. ‘white,’ and it bugs you because you can think of instances where such a usage would be problematic.

    In general, I have been a little disturbed by the flippancy in response to concerns raised about the diversity of voices here at SM, and about the chummy tone of this ‘marvelous civil society’. Some of us, as mentioned elsewhere on the blog recently, do think these are legitimate concerns and perhaps should not be mocked with faux incomprehension.

  12. Max B.:
    “The problem with that is that I have hard time thinking of concrete instances where the US directly and openly usurped European colonial rule”

    uh, maybe you are too young to remember the Vietnam War? Other complex regional examples come to mind…

  13. I have heard Euro-American used by whites in America as a reaction to African-American or Asian-American – people seem uncomfortable if the terms for different ‘races’ are not semantically (?) similar.

  14. Strong wrote: ” I have been a little disturbed by the flippancy in response to concerns raised about the diversity of voices here at SM . . .”

    Hear hear!

    As for the term itself, in anthropological works on Canadian Native peoples (and perhaps on immigrant peoples to Canada . . . I’d have to check), Euro-Canadian (as mentioned by Juli) is commonly used instead of plain old “Canadian” to indicate people of European ancestry. Often, it is followed by something like: “specifically English and French Canadian” when referring to the dominant portions of Canadian society.

    I realise there are problems with the term. For example, it obscures the fact that many “Euro-Canadians” such as Italians, were discriminated against upon their arrival to Canada and that, as mentioned above, the main political, economic and ideological powerhouses are English and French, respectively.

    However, it has the advantage that it takes people of European descent out of the “default” category of “Canadian” while all others have a label: Native Canadian, Asian-Canadian, Russian-Canadian, etc.

    There ARE no perfect terms. It’s up to each scholar/writer to pick one and indicate their reasons for doing so. Or is that too PoMo of a position?

    I can’t comment on Euro-American, although I’ve used Euro North American in discussions of North American colonization and its consequences. I had no idea Euro-American was used in other contexts such as PNG . . . I wouldn’t mind having that usage explained as I am very unfamiliar with work done in that part of the world.

  15. wow…

    ‘Euro-American’ as i used it was a reference to a specific worldview (Weltanschauung) and intellectual canon that stresses European and North American voices. Thus the British Social Anthropological tradition, plus the French, plus the North American four fields would all fall under this umbrella term.

    Euro-American is not an identifier amongst the different ethnicities existent within the US.

    Neither is it solely referring to white individuals, but rather to an intellectual tradition that has, over centuries, had many white-male-heterosexuals voices speak for the world.

    The term as Max B points out “comes from leftist and marxist [not solely the European or North American traditions] discussions of geopolitics, usually in the context of ‘Euro-American hegemony.’ … Alternately, it could be taken as an attempt to append American foreign policy to colonial policy. In that sense, it has a specific historical reference: to the rise of American power immediately after World War II, the fall of the British empire and the rise of the Cold War” – a movement with a specific intellectual tradition, which – for the record – has many great parts and ideas we all dabble in regularly.

    However, acknowledging this does not change the original issue i raised, and that Strong hints to above concerning a diversity of voices here at SM. A central point to which i was originally referring when i chose my semantic tool of choice.

    regards

  16. When I started to read Rex’s post I thought he was being disingenuous too – since the usage in the form Dylan has just pointed out is pretty well established in the literature I thought. But I guess it is possible that he is as clueless as he claims ;) For example, rather than being a term not widely used in PNG/Australian contexts ‘euro-american’ is often employed by the most well known ethnographers of Melanesia (e.g. M. Strathern) – a google scholar search for “euro-american melanesia” is instructive. Also: jeez dude, I don’t know about your context but to ‘go south’ is widely used slang for someone/something that has disappeared (and by extension broken or failed or declined in performance). When people leave Australia they go south because they disappear or fall out of contact (especially in the wilds of PNG or backs of beyond). What’s more it is actually American slang….according to the internets deriving from the propensity for folks to cross the border into Mexico when their visage got a little familiar lets say. Anyway time to vamoose.

  17. Another thought: the term might not be used much in PNG because from my own experience in Australasia, the term “European” can be used there for someone whose great grandparents had already emigrated–I don’t think THAT works here in North America, hence the need for Euro-american or Euro-Canadian.

  18. I think the term could potentially refer to the critics of the Euro-Americanism of “America” as being the standard, as something taken for granted. If, as some one said, America is racially/socially/ethnically organized by the “-”, so you are Polish-American, Irish-American, Native-American, Afro-American, Asian-American, what is left untouched is the Euro-Americanism or the White-Americanism of “America”. That would be one critic, deconstructing the whiteness and europeanness of “America”. The second point would be to draw attention to all these “-Americanism” and to the fact that this “Euro-Americanism” can no longer be taken for granted. What constitute it is a battle-field, an ideological struggle present everywhere. “America” indeed has never be Euro-American, only perhaps a tiny part of it.
    On a personal note: it’s also funny for me the way people from the states called themselves americans, being from Argentina always make me laugh about it.

  19. My immediate response was similar to Dylan’s and Tim’s. Tim and Jon are right to reference Strathern here: while her earlier work often referred to a ‘Western’ worldview, she now nearly exclusively uses the term ‘Euro-American,’ which she nevertheless recognizes as inadequate. She has a footnote about this specific issue in, I believe, _Property, Substance, and Effect_–although I do not have the book on me at the moment. I’ll look it up later and check back with the discussion.

    In sum, I believe the switch was from ‘Western’ to ‘Euro-American’, not ‘white’ to ‘Euro-American’–although this does not automatically or necessarily relieve some of anxieties voiced by Rex in his post.

  20. I have always heard the term Euro-American as the counterpart to Afro-American. But, more frequently one hears European American or African American. So yes the term is just another term for White Americans. White Australians would be European Australians and White South Africans would be European South Africans. I am not sure why this is difficult to figure out. The term African American came about as a reaction to the use of terms such as Irish American, Polish American and Italian American. However, many White Americans are of highly mixed ancestry. This especially true of people of mixed German, English, Dutch and French heritage. So like African Americans it is easier to refer to the continent of their pre-American ancestors rather than to any specific nation or ethnicity.

  21. The citation I referred to above can actually be found in _Kinship, Law, and the Unexpected_:

    bq. An explanation of the gloss of the more usual Western as Euro-American can be found in Edwards et al. 1999: 15-17. ‘American’ here derives from North America, ‘European’ from Northern Europe, but Euro-American influence is neither confined to these parts nor uniform within them (it has global spread, is locally patchy). I refer to a discourse not a people, although I personify the discourse in referring to its ‘speakers’ as Euro-Americans. The awkward term is meant to summon those whose cosmologies were formed by the religious and rationalist upheavals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries across Northern Europe, creating present-day America in their wake’ (163, n. 1).

    The Edwards et al. citation is:
    Edwards, Jeanette, Sarah Franklin, Eric Hirsch, Frances Price, and Marilyn Strathern. 1999. _Technologies of Procreation: Kinship in the age of assisted conception_. London: Routledge.

  22. This fascination with what we name things and the power of naming reminds me, as if I needed reminding after a day of teaching, that it is not only the ‘savage’ who thinks magically. Primitive classification and savage minds, yes indeed.

  23. Euro-American is an excellent term when used in the sense Taylor Nelms quote [comment above] alludes to. It is a better term than “western” as in western thought or western discourse since what is usually being articulated is the dominant ideas, disciplines and so on of European origins that is also so present in the later American ones. In this sense, it is not problematic and much more apt than “western”.

  24. Ron-

    I am indeed too young to remember the Vietnam War, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what happened. French Indochina was initially invaded, catastrophically, by Japan, and US involvement mostly folllowed that point in history. The US didn’t become involved until after France attempted to create a nominally independent state under Bao Dai. The US hardly usurped the French-it was involved in Cold War manouvering, through ‘euro-american,’ meaning non-communist channels, against Ho, a process which gradually developed into a more and more obviously horrible war.

    As Sean M. reminded me, the US did go to war over Spanish posessions long before WWII. And as I pointed out, the US also fought this war with Japan, in which it attempted to reassert control over the former Japanese empire. This is sort of important because we were discussing the relationship between empire and race-I am not an expert on the subject, but I will bet you dollars to donuts that if you look at Hearst paper representations of the Spanish-American war, the representations of the Spaniards are racialized.

    My point is that Euro-American as a category has the ability to euphemize the identification of 1) whiteness 2) the west 3) “our side” in imperial competition. Claiming the the US kicked French butt in the same way it kicked Spanish and Japanese butt obfuscates this.

  25. Wow, there’s more useful discussion in this thread than a dissertating grad student can fit in one meager procrastination session. Thanks/darn you SM!

    The only thing I feel compelled to chime in with is a structuralist point. It seems to me not quite right to say “white” means this or that particular ethnicity in x, y, or z context. As I understand it, “white” designates those who are unmarked by race, not people of any particular ethnicity or ethnicities.

    Thus, while I like the eloquent phrase about the “stark and polar metaphysics” of terms like “black” and “white,” I don’t think they should be jettisoned. It seems that if you are indeed referring to the stark polarities of racial inequity–the way some people are involuntarily *marked* by race, while others have the *option* of identifying their ethnicity or not–then it would be obscuring that phenomena to use a more descriptive term, rather than revealing the categorical nature of the concept.

  26. Oh kay…
    Care to talk about context?

    When I first glanced at Rex’s entry, a felt a small tinge because I probably used “Euro-American” in a comment on SM, at some point. So I felt like the comment was directed at people like me. And I felt as if I had to defend myself.

    My own usage tends to depend on context. Not that “Euro-American” is that flexible a term, but my disambiguation strategies rely on context a whole lot (might be stronger among French-speakers).
    So…
    In a discussion where “Western” is expected, I often throw “Euro-American” in as a way to make things clearer (or to make people think about how obviously unclear “Western” really is). I guess this term use is a bit like Strathern has apparently been doing (though I wasn’t aware of her term use). Some critics would probably talk about political correctness but I hear it more as thought-provocation. The term tickles the ear. To me, “Anglo-American” is even more effective because of US/UK continuities which often go unnoticed. Kind of like “WASP” without the ‘W.’
    In other contexts, I use it the same way as Dylan does, referring to a worldview with post-colonial implications. In this sense, there can be a fairly clear implication that we’re really talking about specific parts of Western Europe and North America. Something close to the “Western” (and western) portion of Wallerstein’s “Core.” There’s a country/nation-state version of geo-political thinking embedded in this usage (IMHO) and the implicit map resembles that of NATO members.
    In yet other contexts, my personal use of “Euro-American” contrasts with my use of “post-industrial societies,” pointing out that there’s a difference between the historical/geographical realities of “European Imperialism” and the Industrial Revolution. People often use “Western” for either of these and it might be useful to distingush the two.
    In all of these usage patterns (term use plus context), there is some degree of vagueness as to which societies/regions/”countries” are included/excluded. In post-colonial discussions, for instance, some people would perceive “Euro-American” to tacitly include (or not expressly exclude) some parts of Australasia. In Globalization discussions, “Euro-American” may be limited to “the most powerful nations” such as the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy (G6 minus Japan). This degree of vagueness could be seen as more realistic since it captures real vagueness in most discussions on such topics. Sure, it’s often useful to be more specific as to how much ground a term like this is meant to cover. But given journalistic habits seeping into our conversational styles on geo/socio/political issues, we might as well use broad terms and hope for the best.

    As for racial undertones, I think they were indirect (if present at all) in most conversations in which I’ve participated with “Euro-American” being used. Sure, there’s an implicit link between The West and The Whites, to some people. But the religious conceptual association (“Judeo-Christian Westerners”) seems even stronger to me (and much more implicit). In most contexts, not all Euro-Americans are labeled “White” and not all labeled “Whites” are Euro-American.
    In other words, I really don’t think “Euro-American is code for White.” At least, not in most academic conversations.
    Sure, it might have been used on occasion as a differentiating ethnonym for “people who mainly recognize themselves as descendants of European settlers” in the United States of America (excluding the rest of North America). But “European-American” seems much more common in those contexts, these days. “Afro-American” is quaint in most contexts. It might be political correctness which makes “-o-American” sound weird as a part of ethnic/racial terms.

    (Sorry to be coming so late to the discussion. Not been doing a good job with my feeds.)

  27. Thanks, Alexandre. I use terms in just such a contexty way, including for disambiguation and provocative reambiguation – busting the logics of primitive classification – so it’s nice to have such a cogent explanation of the value and practice of such.

    Jenny, I agree completely about the non-ethnic content of ‘whiteness’. In my field of history I believe this is the conventional understanding, including a growing literature on the historical process of ‘whitening’ of various immigrant ethnicities.

    Consequent to this process, one would capture much more about me and my tribe, locally and world-historically, by referring to us as ‘suburban’. This includes many friends ‘of color’ whose versions of suburbanity were inflected in many ways by the prevailing conventions of ‘race’ (however muted in that context), but with whom this white guy shares huge chunks of basic worldview, education and life trajectory.

  28. @Carl So, have we gone past the “skin color” implications of “Stuff * People Like?” Always seems strange to me that North American Anglos should be so obsessed with phenotype-based “racial” concepts.

  29. Quite so.

    There’s an obvious sense in which being racially unmarked is a ‘privilege’ of those who get to claim whiteness, but a more subtle sense in which this creates an odd bind. “Blackness” or “negritude” or “color” have arisen historically as assertive reactions to the phenotype-based ascriptions of hegemonic racism. As such, these identities have been important points of leverage in challenging and overthrowing that racism.

    The problem is that this valorization of physical color and its various mythologized cultural associations binds those so identifying into a model of victimhood, exclusion and righteous conflict as an essential element of self-definition. And it binds them to color. Because to recover from racism they would have to recover from race, that is, they would have to (as the binary has been defined) become white – the enemy. As suburban African-Americans who shop at Pottery Barn, throw dinner parties and like the Indigo Girls are accused of being by “the black community.” The label sticks even harder when it’s self-attached.

    As a consequence, it’s now an open question who is more committed to ‘doing’ race in North America, blacks or their erstwhile oppressors. The Obama campaign is quite revealing on this point; only for blacks as such is it about race; most whites really just don’t want to get into that and would prefer just to judge him “by the content of his character.”

  30. @Carl Honestly, I like your thinking. Thoughtful, insightful, honest.
    One thing I noticed, as an outsider to MidWestern academic culture, is that there is quite a set of restrictions as to approaches to discussing race in those contexts. Basically, it seemed that only those who were considered “African-Americans” were allowed to discuss their personal relationship to race. Also, and much sadder in my mind, some of those students who were labeled “African-American” would only speak up in class (graduate seminars) on the topic of race.
    I can understand that “African-Americans” would be considered experts on race. It still puzzles me but I do conceive of what it corresponds to. But I was aghast at seeing some eloquent students who would seemingly refrain from participating in academic discussions unless these discussions were about race. Maybe my observations were inaccurate. Call it “culture shock,” I guess.
    Sorry for using this comment thread conversationally. It’s actually quite useful for me for very specific (and personal) reasons.

  31. En passant…
    Mon commentaire, bien que personnel, ne référait qu’à cette interaction-ci. J’ai déjà avoué que je ne suivais pas ce blogue très activement et je ne suis pas toujours au su des dernières sensibilités. Alors, si je réponds à un billet spécifique, c’est tout en étant ignorant de ce qui se trame dans les coulisses.
    Aussi, si je peux commenter à répétition pendant certaines périodes, mon intention n’est jamais de prendre la place réservée à d’autres ou de faire plus de bruit que la moyenne. D’ailleurs, si je cesse rapidement de participer à un forum spécifique, c’est souvent parce que je remarque que ma présence n’est pas nécessaire.

    BTW, while this comment was personal, it was specifically triggered by this interaction. As I said previously, I don’t follow SM as religiously as I probably should so I only have a very vague idea of what has been going on.
    In fact, when I start a commenting spree in here or elsewhere, it’s just based on some trains of thought and it isn’t meant as a way to shut down any of the voices. When I stop commenting, it’s oftentimes because I notice my voice has no positive impact.

  32. Random outsider chiming in here, but I felt I’d reply to this thread. You rather brought up some ideas that have been floating around in my head, and discussed in the courses I cover, for a good while.

    Jenny commented on the term “white” referring to the absence of racial connotations – which is an interesting observation and totally in-line with commentary out of the Jalisco area of Mexico, where a young girl getting ready for a formal event would be told, in translation, that she is/looks white. (State of being, not state of identity)

    Further, we in the US often append the “politically correct” terminology of the 90′s to references to Americans of non-dominant racial (and even ethnic, when there’s a large enough population) identity. As an adjunct I’ve found this problematic.

    A conversation I had in England with several friends of mine from Britain, Greece, Jamaica, and Barbados really brought that home. To most, having their nationality in some way altered or denied by prefixing their ethnic/racial identity implied that they were “less” than a full American/Brit/etc.

    This is a question I bring up to my classes, then. Why do we say “African/Asian/Hispanic – American” but not “Euro – American” as well. We’re being no less imprecise with that identification. Many “African-Americans” don’t have RECENT ancestors from Africa, and some Nigerian-descended 1st generation Americans really take issue with this shared identification. The absence of the term “Euro” then may well indicate the state of “freedom from ascribed racial identity” but those identities we do ascribe (hypodescent, anyone?) are often exceptionally imprecise in themselves. So, generally, the conclusion is that the terminology is part of the meta-racism that exists in the USA today, cast in the light of “supportive correct terminology” as if being other than pale and of often distant European ancestry was something to be ashamed of.

    While I realize that “Euro-American” is more often used to refer to a socio-political hegemony of thought and capital, even in this usage we are being exceptionally general as many parts of both Europe and the Americas are not included in this disingenuous title.

  33. Talk about over analyzing a subject! As a so called “native-American” and in the context of Afro-American, Asian American, and Hispanic American it simply follows that a person with European heritage would be a Euro-American. It is unfortunate that the great “melting pot” of America has become polarized into such different cultures and ethnic designations. Simply being an American should cover all citizens without any further distinction. But then there is a degree of racism inherent in the designation of any hyphenated American.

    The use of “White” or “Black” to designate a human however is the ultimate racism: The Black and White or Racism.

  34. Well if you check American street pejorative expressions, “white trash” is a white, poor American and “eurotrash” is an elitist, snobbish European in America. See the difference and the connection? French, British, Germans, even though their skin color is white, are not called “White” in America. If there’s “eurotrash,” “Euro-American” makes sense, at least in American lexicon.

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