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Film NationHollywood Looks at U.S. History, Revised Edition$
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Robert Burgoyne

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780816642915

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816642915.001.0001

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Homeland or Promised Land? The Ethnic Construction of Nation in Gangs of New York

Homeland or Promised Land? The Ethnic Construction of Nation in Gangs of New York

Chapter:
(p.143) 7 Homeland or Promised Land? The Ethnic Construction of Nation in Gangs of New York
Source:
Film Nation
Author(s):

Robert Burgoyne

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816642915.003.0008

This chapter focuses on the film Gangs of New York, with its ethnic antagonism highlighting a recurrent tension in the national story seldom considered a central part of its creation. The film dramatizes the emergence of American identity in the mid-nineteenth century precisely as a history of contending peoples, antagonistic authorities, and tense locations of cultural difference. The main conflict portrayed in the film, which is the struggle between the new Irish immigrants and the combined political and criminal collective of Native Americans, shows a very different story of American history defined by urban life, with its multiple zones of social interaction, and where ethnic survival is the framing structure and the overarching theme.

Keywords:   Gangs of New York, ethnic antagonism, national story, American identity, American history, urban life

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