This book, in contrast to the common assumption that social mobility required giving up ethnic attachments, demonstrates that there was in fact much productive fusion of ethnic identities and economic aspirations. The pursuit of material bounty that inspired so many migrants and immigrants in America often demanded their toleration of demeaning stereotypes. American capitalist energies also sponsored nuanced and creative conceptions of cultural difference. This was most obvious in advertising “capitalism's way,” in one commentator's notorious phrase, “of saying I love you to itself.” Ethnic figures in ads of the era were often represented with the sort of complexity that invited admiration and imitation: an ad for Waterman Pens featured Pocahontas and John Smith as mutual representatives of Indian and British aristocracies, while Sapolio hawked the cleansing powers of its soap by identifying it with Judaic laws of kashrut.
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