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Shocking but Not Surprising: The Origins of Anti-Asian Racism in the U.S.
April 20 @ 5:45 pm - 7:00 pm
Spring 2023 Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities:
Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History, and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University
At this in-person Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities event, Mae Ngai draws from her recent book, The Chinese Question, winner of the 2022 Bancroft Prize. She discusses the history of Chinese during the gold rushes of the nineteenth century and the rise of the “coolie” myth and the false view that Chinese were unfree workers, like slaves, and therefore incapable of democratic citizenship. She considers how anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism were reproduced over time, through laws, colonialism, and wars, over the course of the twentieth century and to the present.
Mae Ngai is Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History, and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. She is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in the histories of immigration, citizenship, nationalism, and the Chinese diaspora. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004); The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010); and The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics (2021). Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, the Nation, and Dissent. Before becoming a historian she was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education. She is now writing Nation of Immigrants: A Short History of an Idea (under contract with Princeton University Press).
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Event sponsored by the The Center for the Humanities, UW–Madison.