Alien Nation: Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie Era through World War II

Alien Nation: Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie Era through World War II

by Elliott Young


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In this sweeping work, Elliott Young traces the pivotal century of Chinese migration to the Americas, beginning with the 1840s at the start of the "coolie" trade and ending during World War II. The Chinese came as laborers, streaming across borders legally and illegally and working jobs few others wanted, from constructing railroads in California to harvesting sugar cane in Cuba. Though nations were built in part from their labor, Young argues that they were the first group of migrants to bear the stigma of being "alien." Being neither black nor white and existing outside of the nineteenth century Western norms of sexuality and gender, the Chinese were viewed as permanent outsiders, culturally and legally. It was their presence that hastened the creation of immigration bureaucracies charged with capture, imprisonment, and deportation.

This book is the first transnational history of Chinese migration to the Americas. By focusing on the fluidity and complexity of border crossings throughout the Western Hemisphere, Young shows us how Chinese migrants constructed alternative communities and identities through these transnational pathways.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469612966
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/03/2014
Series: The David J. Weber Series in the New Borderlands History
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Elliott Young is professor of Latin American and borderlands history at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

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From the Publisher

Hannah Arendt once described migrants, refugees, and exiles as 'rightless,' a category that helps clarify its supposed opposites: citizenship, rights, and sovereignty. Alien Nation, a superb book by Elliott Young on Chinese migration in the Americas, brings the method and insight of transnational social history to bear on Arendt's formulation, redefining terms scholars often take for granted and giving us an entirely new way to think about the categories alien and citizen.—Greg Grandin, author of Fordlandia

Punching through borders intellectual and geographical, Alien Nation is ambitious and convincing, with unparalleled scope. In this innovative book, Elliott Young illuminates across five countries the processes and relationships that have been obscured in earlier, binational treatments of Chinese migration and labor networks, thereby contributing significantly to scholarship in migration, Asian, and American studies.—Madeline Y. Hsu, University of Texas at Austin

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