Tuesday, 7 February 2017

the new colossus

In 1940, the Council Against Intolerance in America commissioned artist Emma Bourne to produce a map (with no state boundaries) to illustrate how the US was a nation of migrants. The red banners show broadly where various groups of people settled and mark their religious and ethnic backgrounds and there’s a call-out box crediting immigrants in the arts and industry (though telling of attitudes towards Asia and Africa and very euro-centric).
The impetus to publish the map back then was the isolationist stance that the US was taking to the escalating situation in Europe and scapegoating of refugees. The title refers to the poem that Emma Lazarus penned to raise funds to construct the pediment for the Statue of Liberty that was otherwise a gift from France that of course concludes with the stanza:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”