Comparative Racialization, Immigration Law, and James Williams’s Life and Adventures (Article) [show prizes]
Title: Comparative Racialization, Immigration Law, and James Williams’s Life and Adventures
Author: Edlie Wong
Abstract: The article investigates James Williams’s largely forgotten postbellum slave narrative, The Life and Adventures of James Williams, A Fugitive Slave (1873) to chart the various constellations of racial formations emerging from the politics and cultures of early black westward migration. Williams’s once-popular autobiography chronicling his experiences as a fugitive slave and California gold miner knits together stories from the Underground Railroad with firsthand observations on Chinese labor migration and Indian resettlement in the West. This essay reads Williams’s narrative alongside the key legal and political contexts that gave its narrative shape (and to which Williams addressed his text), including California Governor John Bigler’s anti-coolieism campaign (1852), the California Supreme Court ruling in People v. Hall (1854), and the widely publicized Modoc War (1872–73). It builds upon the analytics for articulating racial difference honed in US race and ethnic studies to help illuminate Williams’s literary efforts to formulate an early politics of comparative racialization.
Periodical Title: American Literature
Publisher: Duke University Press
In a Future Tense: Immigration Law, Counterfactual Histories, and Chinese Invasion (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: In a Future Tense: Immigration Law, Counterfactual Histories, and Chinese Invasion
Author: Edlie Wong
Abstract: Invited to give the William Bennett Munro Memorial Seminar at the California Institute of Technology.
Date Range: May 18, 2012
Location: California Institute of Technology
Primary URL: http://www.caltech.edu/content/william-bennett-munro-memorial-seminar-4
Primary URL Description: CalTech Calendar of Events
Futures Past: Counterfactual Histories and Comparative Racialization in the Chinese Invasion Novel (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: Futures Past: Counterfactual Histories and Comparative Racialization in the Chinese Invasion Novel
Author: Edlie Wong
Abstract: Invited to give one day seminar and talk on current research at Pennsylvania State University as part of English Department's Imaginary Vistas Series.
Date Range: February 24, 2012
Location: Pennsylvania State University
Primary URL: http://english.la.psu.edu/events/imaginary-vistas-series-to-present-edlie-wong
Primary URL Description: Penn State University English Department Events
In a Future Tense: Immigration Law, Counterfactual Histories, and Chinese Invasion Fiction (Article)
Title: In a Future Tense: Immigration Law, Counterfactual Histories, and Chinese Invasion Fiction
Author: Edlie Wong
Abstract: This essay recovers the literary prehistory of an overlooked popular subgenre—the Chinese invasion narrative—that continues to convey, albeit in a historically transformed way, collective anxieties over the “Other” that menaces American society today. By the final decades of the nineteenth century, the notion of an Asiatic threat was well established in U.S. culture, in part through the circulation of Yellow Peril discourses popularized by a variety of writings, ranging from anti-Chinese polemics, missionary tracts, travelogues, oratories, stump speeches, and Chinese invasion fiction. A product of the Pacific Coast anti-Chinese movement, the Chinese invasion subgenre first began appearing in print in the 1880s, and it offers an understudied episode in the history of literary form let alone in the social history of American race relations. The sensational futuristic plots of Chinese invasion—a subgenre now associated with early science fiction—reworked the historical tensions of American colonization and slavery and projected them onto the life-and-death struggle between the U.S. and China. Set in a future in which Chinese aggressors have subjugated white America, invasion narratives by a range of largely forgotten writers, including Pierton Dooner, Robert Woltor, Arthur Dudley Vinton, James D. Corrothers, and Vachel Lindsay linked industrial modernization to national dissolution, as they imagined China as the horizon of capitalist markets. In envisioning the tragic consequences of unrestricted Chinese immigration, these narratives absorbed and refracted white anxieties over the end of western expansion—indeed, of American Manifest Destiny—and the changing composition of the national polity in the wake of black citizenship and suffrage.
Primary URL: http://alh.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/07/04/alh.aju030.full.pdf?keytype=ref&ijkey=SJ5taZy0aOAzuQH
Primary URL Description: American Literary History
Access Model: open access
Periodical Title: American Literary History
Publisher: Oxford University Press
From the Archive of Asian Indenture: American Literary Travels, Cuban Annexation and the New World Coolie (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: From the Archive of Asian Indenture: American Literary Travels, Cuban Annexation and the New World Coolie
Abstract: This talk mines a corpus of American travelogues to explore how the literary and cultural construction of the New World coolie influenced the course of U.S. Empire in the Caribbean and ramified in the sectional conflicts over slavery and abolition as well as in post-war national debates over labor and immigration control.
Author: Edlie Wong
Location: Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Columbia University
Primary URL: http://english.columbia.edu/events/edlie-wong-archive-asian-indenture-american-literary-travels-cuban-annexation-and-new-world
Primary URL Description: Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Columbia University
Racial Reconstruction: Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship (Book)
Title: Racial Reconstruction: Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship
Author: Edlie L. Wong
Abstract: The end of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade triggered wide-scale labor shortages across the U.S. and Caribbean. Planters looked to China as a source for labor replenishment, importing indentured laborers in what became known as “coolieism.” From heated Senate floor debates to Supreme Court test cases brought by Chinese activists, public anxieties over major shifts in the U.S. industrial landscape and class relations became displaced onto the figure of the Chinese labor immigrant who struggled for inclusion at a time when black freedmen were fighting to redefine citizenship.
Racial Reconstruction demonstrates that U.S. racial formations should be studied in different registers and through comparative and transpacific approaches. It draws on political cartoons, immigration case files, plantation diaries, and sensationalized invasion fiction to explore the radical reconstruction of U.S. citizenship, race and labor relations, and imperial geopolitics that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act, America’s first racialized immigration ban. By charting the complex circulation of people, property, and print from the Pacific Rim to the Black Atlantic, Racial Reconstruction sheds new light on comparative racialization in America, and illuminates how slavery and Reconstruction influenced the histories of Chinese immigration to the West.
Publisher: New York: New York University Press
Type: Single author monograph
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes