Mae Ngai

Mae Ngai

Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History

520 Fayerweather Hall
Phone: (212) 854-2518
Email: mn53@columbia.edu
Office Hours: Tuesday 4-6pm & by appointment

Education

Ph.D. — Columbia University, 1998 (with distinction)
M.A. — Columbia University, 1993
B.A. — SUNY Empire State, 1992

Current Departmental Service

Graduate Admissions Committee

Interests and Research

Mae M. Ngai, Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010).  Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Boston Review. 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 working on Yellow and Gold: The Chinese Mining Diaspora, 1848-1908, a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in the nineteenth-century California, the Australian colony of Victoria, and the South African Transvaal.

Courses

  • Immigrants in American History and Life
  • Asian American History
  • US in the Progressive Era
  • The American Pacific
  • Senior thesis seminar
  • Colonization/Decolonization
  • U.S. Historiography
  • National Identity and Citizenship in U.S. History

Awards

Fellowships and Grants

  • Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2013)
  • OAH-AHRAC China Residency Program (2013)
  • Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (2012)
  • Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, New York Public Library (2012)
  • Institute for Advanced Study (2009)
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2009)
  • Huntington Library (2006)
  • Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard (2003)
  • NYU Law School (2000)
  • Social Science Research Council (1999)

Selected Publications

Books

Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton 2004). Winner of six book awards including Frederick Jackson Turner prize (OAH), Littleton Griswold prize (AHA), Lora Romero prize (ASA), Theodore Salutos prize (Immigration and Ethnic History Society).

The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010; paperback edition, Princeton University Press, 2012; forthcoming in Chinese translation (幸運寵兒) from Commercial Press, Beijing (2013) and University Press of National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei (2013).

Editor (with Jon Gjerde), Major Problems in American Immigration History, second ed. (Cengage 2011)

Recent Articles


“Immigration and Ethnic History,” in American History Now, ed. Eric Foner and Lisa McGirr (2011)

“Chinese Miners, Headmen, and Protectorates on the Victorian goldfields, 1858-68,” Australian Historical Studies (2011)

“’A Slight Knowledge of the Barbarian Language’: Chinese interpreters in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century America,” Journal of American Ethnic History (2011)

“Fixing a Broken Immigration System,” guest editor of special section, and essay, “The Civil Rights Origins of Illegal Immigration,” International Labor and Working Class History (Fall 2010)

Affiliations

  • Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Columbia University
  • American Historical Association, Committee on Minority Historians
  • Editorial Board, International Labor and Working Class History
  • Editorial Board, Journal of American Ethnic History
  • Editorial Board, Journal of American History