Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Lew-Williams, "Paper Lives of Chinese Migrants and the History of the Undocumented"

Modern American History has published an article that looks to be of interest to LHB readers: "Paper Lives of Chinese Migrants and the History of the Undocumented," by Beth Lew-Williams (Princeton University). Here's the abstract:

Historians know a great deal more about the laws and policies that first created unauthorized status than the people who had to live within these constraints. What if we tell the history of the undocumented as a history of a people, rather than a history of a state-constructed category? Scholars have noted that unauthorized status exerts broad effects on the conditions of migrants’ everyday lives, but they have focused primarily on Latinx migrants in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The case of unauthorized migrants produced by the Chinese exclusion laws (1882–1943) demonstrates how the study of the undocumented must begin a century earlier. In order to denaturalize the conditions of the present, we must interrogate the shifting nature of undocumented life in the past.
Read on here.

-- Karen Tani