ENGL 350: Naturalization
What Is Naturalization? (General Usage and Definitions)
"Naturalization" is the process undergone to make something more "natural." This process invokes a change that directs something back to what would be considered its natural state. Conversely, naturalization can also point to the introduction and subsequent adaptation of a new person into an already existing culture or political state. This latter meaning stands overtly contrary to the first meaning in that the socio-political realm is, by some definitions, the opposite of (Mother) Nature. Because of this paradox, the historical meanings of the word "nature" are relevant in order to show what something must change (naturalize) into. In light of the paradoxical usage of naturalization, the definition of "nature" is called into play. The two usages definitely cannot pair together unless a use of the term "natural" somehow advocates the assimilation of one ideology into another. The OED says that one definition of the word "naturalization" is 2. a. The admission, assimilation, or adoption of foreign words, beliefs, arts, practices, etc., into general use or favour. Is "nature", then, something arbitrary? Tracking the how nature is defined and how the usage of naturalization is approached today certainly draws our attention to the socio-political implications and influence upon questions of what nature really is. Nature is described by Robert as "the most difficult word in the language to define" (171), as it varies amoung people, cultures, and especially worldviews. This derivative of the keyword is something that is innate and unchanging, but extremely difficult to pinpoint.
As this page explores the different definitions of naturalization, it is important to note that while these definitions have stayed constant throughout the years, the implications, ideologies, and groupings/associations have changed drastically.
Naturalization as a Noun
The term naturalization has been part of American vocabulary when the requirements of American citizenship are being defined in the 18th and 19th centuries. The U.S. Constitution mentions that citizens are naturalized, or born within the United States in Amendment 14, thereby equating citizenship with birth right. The first Naturalization Act in 1790 stated that only "free, white persons" who have been living in America for at least two years were considered citizens, later increased to five and then fourteen years in later revisions of the Naturalization Act in 1795 and 1798, respectively. With the colonies being settled by white Europeans, the American Indians, or "native" Americans, were excluded from any rights within the emerging country, even though it was the Indians who inhabitated the land in the first place. As seen in Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia," Indians, along with blacks and other minorities, were classified in their own separate category when recording population. This separation between races defined what an American citizen should be based on standards created by "free, white persons." These requirements for naturalization only included whites until 1952 when supplemental Acts were passed that allowed for "race-neutral naturalization."
Naturalization as a Verb
Nature, Naturalization, and Ideology
It seems we must talk about nature in two senses; (1) the natural occurrences of say, one's skin color, is not an affect of one's ideology or perspective. This seems to represent an innate Nature, however, (2) nature must also be considered as a product and process of construction/extraction. How far can we trust a sense of "Human Nature" as removed from any outside, cultural influence as the fingers of one's society begin reaching into the depths of one's psychical structure from the moment of one's birth.
Ideology, in reference to its connection with "naturalization," is an adopted set of values that may change over time or different environments. "Nature," however, is something innate; it is not supposed to change; it is almost synonymous with "character" or "personality". Nature is constant, beginning with the formation of the Earth. It is the environment around us, but also the intrinsic being of who were are as humans. "Human nature" is also a key phrase used within religion, as to explain the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and how it has been passed down through many generations. In religious circles, our nature has been constant since the fall of man. What defines humans is our nature, whether it has been passed down from our ancestors or our instincts and natural responses to stimuli in our environment.
Thus we have the essence of the paradox of naturalization. Wheatley (almost reluctantly) admits that her nature is African (Ethiope), but obviously her ideology--if we are to trust the overwhelming and suspicious nature of its presentation--has changed to match her Western, white, Christian environment. Does the obvious misalignment between her nature and her ideology represent a "successful" process of naturalization? Further, considering the basic discrepancy between (innate) nature and (foreign) naturalization, can there be a successful naturalization? Or is naturalization always doomed to be an alien process, producing alien identities?
Looking at Dictionary.com and its list of synonyms for "foreign," the word "exiled" appears. Upon the success of her naturalization, has she been exiled by African culture? Though her nature is still African, her ideology is Western-white-Christian. When considering the process of naturalization, it is necessary not only to study what one is being naturalized 'to', but also what one has been naturalized--and possibly exiled--'from'.
Naturalization and Border
The relationship between naturalization and border requires recognition when speaking in socio-political terms such as nation, nationality, and native. At the heart of the relationship between these two keywords resides the function of social identification. The keywords seem to be two prongs in the same process of establishing a national identity. If a border assumes the territory and defines the extent and area of a nation, and the particular socio-political/economic schema attached to that nation, then it seems naturalization is the "alchemical" and "unnatural" process of indoctrinating that schema into a foreigner. Priscilla Wald, in the Keywords text, writes, "In all of its usages, 'naturalization' evinces the alchemy of the state: the transformation of the many, if not into one, then at least into an intricate relatedness that hovers uncertainly between kinship and citizenship" (174).
While naturalization is the process of synchronization and indoctrination that takes place within a nation's borders, seemingly enforcing the socio-political/economic schema of that nation, it also runs the risk of representing a function that breaks down borders. Again, Wald tells us that naturalization is the first step in a process of "an alternative biological model for national transformation... that even the most enduring antipathies between cultures and races would eventually erode and that interdependence would be followed by intermixture on a global scale" (173).
It is important to note that both Naturalization and Border, in socio-political/economic terms, are rooted in the process of social classification.
• Border – The construction that assumes and defines the extent of a territory as a nation and subsequently the particular socio-political/economic schema attached to that nation.
• Naturalization – What Priscilla Wald calls the “alchemical” and “unnatural” process of indoctrinating that schema into a person who’s current ideology or social structuring is not fully synchronized with that of the nation which they wish to be a part of. Quote 1: Priscilla Wald, “in all its usages…” (173).
• This presses upon the issue of immigration and foreign reception and how the border of a nation acts as an ideological catalyst and references back to how a nation is prepared to receive those of foreign ideological constructions and then transform those individuals into ideologically synchronized citizens. In defining a national identity, something that both assumes and pronounces for the individual the terms for their citizenship, the constructs of naturalization & border can be seen as two interconnected channels of the same process of social classification.
• Referencing back to Mary Pat Brady’s work on the keyword border, she writes of borders “as instantiations of national identity for citizens” (32). In light of this passage, naturalization can be seen as the tool that unpacks these instantiations and defines what Wald calls “the science of the state”. Naturalization, then, is the process of explaining what exists, speaking in socio-political/economic and ideological terms, in-between the borders of a nation. Shifting gears, a bit, more towards the direction of this courses focus, namely, early American studies, Wald draws attention to “Americanization”.
• Americanization – As the borders of early America were constantly being expanded and redefined, the early nation saw an influx of immigrants seeking a new national identity apart from Europe. This, Wald says “rhetorically replaced ‘nature’ (descent) with ‘nation’ (consent).
• This ushered in the enforcement of what Wald calls, the “concept of a nation as a political entity rather than an aggregate of people distinguished by their common descent and heritage” (172).
In light of this, we can see how important the tool and concept of Americanization is for our authors, such as Jefferson, for instance, who in many respects, was centrally focused on this idea of Americanization and what that entailed for the growth and production of an early United States. We can also see how central the concepts of naturalization and border, as an interconnected process and function of social classification, are crucial for Jefferson and our other authors charged with the task of developing a national identity.
Jefferson and Naturalization
"A foreigner of any nation, not in open war with us, becomes naturalized by removing to the state to reside, and taking an oath of fidelity: and thereupon acquires every right of a native citizen: and citizens may divest themselves of that character, by declaring, by solemn deed, or in open court, that they mean to expatriate themselves, and no longer to be citizens of this state." (141)
For Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia, naturalization is almost purely a political process; being “natural” means aligning oneself with the state, as opposed to (re)connecting with Mother Nature. Though Jefferson uses the word naturalization only once, it invokes overlapping and conflicted meanings of the word in reference to nationalism, citizenship, an “other,” free will, and perhaps most poignantly, human nature. In this way, Jefferson lies firmly on the political side of the nature/politics tension that characterizes how we think about naturalization.
The emphasis on citizenship is critical to Jefferson’s understanding of naturalization. A human being is only a mere person before they are elevated to the status of a citizen; it is almost like another state of consciousness for Jefferson. Echoing the Declaration of Independence (while simultaneously foreshadowing the Constitution of the United States), Jefferson interestingly differentiates between the rights “of a native citizen” and human rights. One may always have human rights no matter political status, but incorporation into a nation/state imparts special rights that cannot be gained any other way. Further, citizenship is somehow like a mask that one can take on and off; Jefferson reveals its arbitrary nature by saying that “citizens may divest themselves of that character” by simply declaring that they no longer wish to be citizens.
At first, it seems too lenient that one can simply declare oneself in and out of citizenship. But Jefferson does something else by characterizing citizenship in this way: he empowers people to define their own process of naturalization and implies a certain sophistication in being a citizen—with that power comes responsibility, and a true duty to uphold the principles of the state and the culture which the state flourishes alongside. By giving people this kind of freedom, Jefferson shows that he believes in and trusts the ultimate morality of human nature: “…that moral sense of right and wrong, which, like the sense of tasting and feeling, in every man makes a part of his nature” (Jefferson 98). Finally, a healthy tolerance of all religions, peoples, and ideas flows throughout this meaning for naturalization, evoking a respect for humanity that America would later pride itself on. Jefferson’s focus on citizenship can be used as the primary vehicle for understanding the political significance of naturalization.
Wheatley and Naturalization
Referencing back to the Phillis Wheatley poems, the idea of a cultural naturalization that directs her assimilation of an American, Western ideology makes a sound connection to the term and usage, "border". And again, referencing back to what the OED holds as its definition of naturalization, namely, that it is 2. a. The admission, assimilation, or adoption of foreign words, beliefs, arts, practices, etc., into general use or favour, we can see how this is clear in Philiss Wheatley's poetry as she uses classical references to Latin, Greek mythology and Philosophy. Phillis was made known that there was something inherently wrong with her "nature", yet if we read the works of, say, Achebe for instance, we find that, really, the nature of African is anything but "uncivilized" or "impoverished". That African societies of the time function in harmony with their established notion of "nature". It seems that "naturalization" must be yet another product of "border" and "ideology".
Hobomok and Naturalization/Native
sources used: Terms of Assimilation: Legislating Subjectivity in the Emerging Nation, by Priscilla Wald boundary 2 © 1992 Duke University Press
Lydia Maria Francis Child's Hobomok
note to other group members, this is rough outline. Please feel free to edit/add to for your wiki credit. Of course i will be cleaning it up too.Let’s start with the quote from Keywords- p.172 ‘a member of an indigenous tribe in the united states for example was a native, but not of a nation, as the Cherokee learned when they sought political representation through the U.S supreme court’ At this time your groundings, roots, origins within America did not equal American rights , Nation rights. So Natural rights are rights that inhere in a certain conception of personhood. But that conception and those rights extend only to certain persons. Personhood is essentially conceptually constructed by convention. (Ward 96)
This is still a main idea today…what is ‘natural?’ what is normal? This is a hard question to answer. Stew and Ryan are going to go into this later.
Frantz Fanon description of the ‘real other’ whom the white man perceives on the level of the body image, absolutely as the not self- that is the unidentifiable, the un-assimable. The unnatural. We get this in Hobomok. To be natural- is to be white. To be natural is to be puritan, to be natural is to be compliant, passive under the white man.
Hobomok seldom spoke in Mr. Conant's presence, save in reply to his questions. He understood little of the dark divinity which he attempted to teach, and could not comprehend wherein the traditions of his fathers were heathenish and sinful; but with Mary and her mother, he felt no such restraint, and there he was all eloquence.
Interesting that within marriage he becomes natural. Naturalization/Marriage (cluster) we could argue that Mary’s marriage to Hobomok is in fact to accomplish her Americanization. We will see this later with Pricilla wards ideas on ‘the seasoning of Indian blood’. Good commentary to keep in mind.
Mary Conant automatic forfeiture when she consents to join Hobomok’s worlds should be noted though. Hobomok is the ‘Noble Savage’. He leaves when Charles returns. When he leaves, he Americanizes those who he leaves behind. His removal from the picture helps build a more natural picture. Hobomok’s erasure is signaled rhetorically through his son’s assimilation.
But the question is where does this leave Mary? She says that she can no longer return to England as “my boy would disgrace me… and I will never leave him: for love to him is the only way that I can repay my debt of gratitude’ so she remains in the New World to reconstruct the American family both by reconciling with her puritan father and by reconstituting Charles Hobomok. Interesting she is now AMERICAN. Is it her Indian association that disgraces her, or is it because she is now Americanized? Look at Keywords- p.173 'no american he asserted ,could ever become a "european". such a being only ceases being American, and becomes nothing" (Roosevelt 1894,22)
CLUSTER UPDATE SO FAR. NATURALISATION-AMERICANIZATION-FAMILY (VALUES)-RELIGION, NATIONALITY-HOMELAND
Charles ‘Jnr’ ceases to have the Indian appellation. Let’s look at the quote ‘He departed to finish his studies in England. His father was seldom spoke of, and by degrees his Indian appellation was silently omitted’ Mary’s son attests to a faith in consensus and in the communities abilities to absorb a dash of Indian blood. Ward writes ‘In fact that blood seems to be just the seasoning necessary to de-anglicize or nativize the fledgling national culture but ‘Charles Jnr’ Indian descent can metaphorically occasion his families Americanization only if his father departs.’ (WARD 87)
In terms of cultural theory naturalization in this text- we should focus on this theory of America as a ‘fledgling national culture’. So naturalization and what it is to be an American is predominant.
NATURALISATION AS AN IDEALISING PROCESS?
Now to Stew and Ryan, who are going to throw us into some debate and show the reflexivity of our keyword ‘naturalization’.
here is some brainstorming...(Lucy) can anyone take this further?
Naturalization, to forget
Naturalization Improve/destroy --- Naturalization, in the sense of whether it can improve or destory, can be traced throughout history. The naturalization of Africa by Europeans is partly explained by what is called the "White Man's Burden." This meant that the Europeans felt a duty to impose their government, religion, culture, and mannerisms to the people of the Earth, starting in Africa where they had already established colonies and diplomatic relations. The White Man's Burden proved to be more harmful than good, as many African nations destroyed relics of their past and were forced to adopt new religion, in some cases with very harsh penalities if they didn't, in favor of European culture and Christianity. Many traditions and other aspects of these people are no longer around today. Divisions within African nations have also occurred because of the new ideas that some argue have destroyed their natural way of life.