Immigration expert tackles America’s xenophobia in...

Immigration expert tackles America’s xenophobia in MTSU’s free Strickland online lecture

Photo of historian and professor Erika Lee and the cover of her book

A renowned professor, author and historian will put the focus on one of America’s ugliest open secrets Tuesday, Nov. 2, when she talks with a Middle Tennessee State University audience at this fall’s free Strickland Visiting Scholar Lecture.

Dr. Erika Lee, author, historian, professor and director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Erika Lee

Dr. Erika Lee, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History and director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, will speak on “Xenophobia in America: How We Got Here and What’s at Stake” via Zoom webinar beginning at 7 p.m. Central Nov. 2.

Participants can join the free 90-minute webinar at 83131944430. No password will be required.

During her talk, Lee, who teaches history at Minnesota and is the author of “America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States,” will explain how fear, hatred and hostility toward immigrants have defined America since colonial times. She aims to help her audience learn why xenophobia has endured and how it remains a threat to our nation.

“Xenophobia — our fear and hatred of foreigners — is as American as apple pie,” Lee wrote in a July 4 column for the Los Angeles Times. “And across the centuries, self-proclaimed patriotic citizens have blamed immigrants for all that is wrong in America — all that is un-American — while proclaiming their version of America and ‘American’ to be the truest.

“… Xenophobia is not just about immigrants. It is also about who has the power to define what it means to be American, who gets to enjoy the privileges of American citizenship and who does not.”

cover of Dr. Erika Lee’s newest book, "America for Americans: “A History of Xenophobia in the United States”Lee’s grandparents emigrated from China, and she grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

The 2018 Andrew Carnegie Fellow also testified before Congress last spring during its historic hearings on discrimination and violence against Asian Americans.

She recently was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a problem-solving organization founded during the Revolutionary War, and is the president-elect of the Organization of American Historians.

Along with “America for Americans,” her most recent book, Lee is the author of three more award-winning nonfiction works on U.S. immigration and Asian American history: “The Making of Asian America,” “Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America” and “At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943.”

MTSU Strickland Visiting Scholar Lecture Series logo (including Department of History)MTSU’s Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts sponsors the twice-yearly Strickland Lecture series. The Strickland Visiting Scholar program allows MTSU students to meet with renowned scholars whose expertise spans a variety of historical issues.

The Strickland family established the program in memory of Roscoe Lee Strickland Jr., a longtime professor of European history at MTSU and the first president of the university’s Faculty Senate.

For more information about this lecture, please contact MTSU’s Department of History at 615-898-5798 or visit

— Gina E. Fann (