Pub. Date:
The University of North Carolina Press
At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943 / Edition 1

At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943 / Edition 1

by Erika LeeErika Lee
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With the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Chinese laborers became the first group in American history to be excluded from the United States on the basis of their race and class. This landmark law changed the course of U.S. immigration history, but we know little about its consequences for the Chinese in America or for the United States as a nation of immigrants.

At America's Gates is the first book devoted entirely to both Chinese immigrants and the American immigration officials who sought to keep them out. Erika Lee explores how Chinese exclusion laws not only transformed Chinese American lives, immigration patterns, identities, and families but also recast the United States into a "gatekeeping nation." Immigrant identification, border enforcement, surveillance, and deportation policies were extended far beyond any controls that had existed in the United States before.

Drawing on a rich trove of historical sources—including recently released immigration records, oral histories, interviews, and letters—Lee brings alive the forgotten journeys, secrets, hardships, and triumphs of Chinese immigrants. Her timely book exposes the legacy of Chinese exclusion in current American immigration control and race relations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807854488
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 05/19/2003
Edition description: 1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 510,111
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Erika Lee is associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Lee opens a new chapter in immigration history with a rich, poetic and careful transnational account of how the 'exclusion period' produced anxiety, division and successful resistance among the Chinese it failed to exclude. She strikingly demonstrates how this drama changed the whole story of immigration restriction.—David Roediger, author of Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past

The book, eloquently written with rich original materials, contributes to the existing literature on United States immigration history and Asian American studies, and challenges scholars to see a significant connection between Chinese exclusion and the United States as a gate-keeping nation.—Journal of American Ethnic History

Makes a very significant contribution to both Asian American history and to U.S. immigration history. The amount of research that went into this book is prodigious. Lee addresses a multiplicity of issues and deftly weaves together several themes that, in the past, had been treated separately.—Sucheng Chan, coeditor of Claiming America: Constructing Chinese American Identities during the Exclusion Era

This is the most thorough, complex, and subtle study I have read about Chinese immigration during the era of exclusion. Erika Lee's book offers both a remarkable social history of the Chinese immigrants who challenged the laws meant to keep them out and a sobering account of how suspicions of nonwhite immigrants legitimated the expansion of repressive state power. A major contribution to the history of immigration, race, and nation in modern America.—Gary Gerstle, author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century

The book deepens and integrates our knowledge of the linkages between racist ideologies and national legislation, local politics, and the growth of federal bureaucracies. It is a model of scholarship that will impel topical discussions and policy debates among students and scholars alike.—The International History Review

At America's Gates is the strongest, best grounded, and most persuasive assessment of the long historical shadow Chinese exclusion has cast over the development of American immigration policy.—Journal of Social History

Well documented, well researched, and highly readable.—New York History

The author's openness and sensitivity to the inherent problems and flaws with the government records of the Chinese immigrants . . . demonstrates her seriousness and carefulness as a scholar, and her skillful dissecting of a body of enormously complicated materials makes the book a remarkable historical study. With its elegant style and clear language, this book can be appreciated not only by scholars and graduate and undergraduate students but also by the general public.—Journal of American History

Lee has authored a masterful book, well written and based on extensive research in both English and Chinese sources.—American Historical Review

Extensively researched. . . . [At America's Gate: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943] is helpful when trying to understand our government's complicated laws regarding immigration: encouraging foreigners to immigrate when their services are needed and excluding them when it seems appropriate.—Journal of the West




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