Beth Lew-Williams

Position title: Honorary Fellow (2010-2011)

History, Stanford University

The Chinese Must Go: Immigration, Violence and Deportation in the 19th-Century Pacific Northwest

This project examines the dramatic and formative moment in American history when the federal government made its first major effort to control the movement of people across its borders—and failed. The result was America’s first illegal immigrants and a grassroots uprising against them. In 1882, the Chinese Restriction Act barred Chinese laborers from immigrating to the U.S., but implementing this policy proved impossible. When the federal government failed to stop illegal immigration across the U.S.-Canadian border, white locals in the Pacific Northwest reacted violently, systematically expelling their Chinese neighbors. Combining a detailed social history of racial violence with a transnational political history of immigration policy, this dissertation presents a new history of the rise of Chinese Exclusion.

Beth Lew-Williams is a doctoral candidate in the department of History at Stanford University. Her interests include Asian American history, ethnic studies, and the American West. She has received fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, American Council for Learned Societies, and the George P. Shultz Fund in Canadian Studies.