june, 2021

7jun9:00 am- 10:10 amThe Chinese Question: Chinese Migration and Global Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Mae Ngai)

Event Details

The Chinese Question: Chinese Migration and Global Politics in the Nineteenth Century

JUN 07, 2021  | 9AM – 10:10AM ET

Keynote Lecture (Virtual) | Speaker: Mae Ngai (Columbia University); Comment: Payal Banerjee (Smith College)

Keynote lecture for the Conference “Mobilities, Exclusion, and Migrants’ Agency in the Pacific Realm in a Transregional and Diachronic Perspective”

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Drawing on ten years of research across five continents, prize-winning historian Mae Ngai traces the origins and consequences of the “Chinese Question” as a global racial discourse. By the turn of the twentieth century, the United States and the British Empire had answered this question with laws that excluded Chinese people from immigration and citizenship. Ngai explains how this happened and argues that Chinese exclusion was not extraneous to the emergent global economy but an integral part of it. She traces the origins of the Chinese Question to the gold rushes of the nineteenth century and links them to the globalization of trade, credit, labor, and the rise of Anglo-American power. Finally, she places this topic in the broader context of important themes in world history and economics, from Europe’s subjugation of China to the rise of the international gold standard and the invention of racist, anti-Chinese stereotypes that persist to this day.

Mae Ngai is the Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, a professor of history, and the co-director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. She is the author of 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).


(Monday) 9:00 am - 10:10 am