The Chinese Exclusion Act What It Can Teach Us about America

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-06-11
  • Publisher: Palgrave Pivot
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This provocative study uses the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to explore two critical strands in American Studies: policy conversations on legal and illegal immigration, which too often include no engagement with the actual histories of these categories, and social and educational conversations on diversity and multiculturalism, which tend to misconstrue multi-national diversity as a late 20th and early 21st century phenomenon. As author Benjamin Railton shows, a fresh look at the CEA overturns much of the received wisdom on immigration and American identity. At the same time, it highlights stories - such as that of Yung Wing, the first documented Chinese American immigrant, and the 120 students at his Chinese Educational Mission - that give a hopeful and instructive perspective on the challenges of today.

Author Biography

Benjamin Railton is Associate Professor of English Studies and American Studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, USA. He is the author of Redefining American Identity: From Cabeza de Vaca to Barack Obama (2011); Contesting the Past, Reconstructing the Nation: American Literature and Culture in the Gilded, 1876-1893 (2007); and numerous articles on American literature and culture.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Teaching Americans the Chinese Exclusion Act
1. What the Act Can Teach Us about Immigration History and Laws
2. What the Act Can Teach Us about Diversity
3. What the Act Can Teach Us about Forgotten and Inspiring American Stories
Conclusion: So What?

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