MOCATalks with Beth Lew-Williams: The Chinese Must Go

Thu, Mar 28, 2019 @ 6:30pm - 7:30pm

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Tickets are $15 and include wine and Museum admission. Members receive complimentary tickets. Not a Member? Join today!

 

The American West erupted in anti-Chinese violence in 1885. Following the massacre of Chinese miners in Wyoming Territory, communities throughout California and the Pacific Northwest harassed, assaulted, and expelled thousands of Chinese immigrants. Beth Lew-Williams shows how American immigration policies incited this violence and how the violence, in turn, provoked new exclusionary policies.

 

The Chinese Must Go begins in the 1850s, before federal border control established strict divisions between citizens and aliens. Across decades of felling trees and laying tracks in the American West, Chinese workers faced escalating racial conflict and unrest. In response, Congress passed the Chinese Restriction Act of 1882 and made its first attempt to bar immigrants based on race and class.

 

Beth Lew-Williams is an assistant professor of history and Philip and Beulah Rollins Bicentennial Preceptor at Princeton University. She is a historian of race and migration in the United States, specializing in Asian American history. Her new book, The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion and the Making of the Alien in America, maps the tangled relationships between local racial violence, federal immigration policy, and U.S. imperial ambitions in Asia. Lew-Williams earned her A.B. from Brown University and Ph.D. in history from Stanford University. She has held fellowships from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies.