Do Words Matter? A Linguistic Analysis of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Race Riots that Followed.
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CitationCavanaugh, Corinne. 2020. Do Words Matter? A Linguistic Analysis of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Race Riots that Followed.. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractWhat influence do legislative bodies have on racism in the United States? Is the language within congressional debate of a law similar to language reflected in public narrative? What influence does congressional and public debate have on racial violence?
In the thesis, I argue that overtly racist language used by members of Congress and in the public debate of Chinese immigration in the late 1800s created racial institutional orders that enabled racial violence. I provide research and linguistic findings of congressional debate of the Chinese Exclusion Act passed in 1882, public debate of The Chinese Question, and media coverage of significant race riots that followed. I determine whether media coverage of the race riot used the same racially pejorative language as members of Congress. My findings add to current academic research on institutional racism, racial institutional orders, racial violence, and the Chinese Exclusion Act. This consideration of the relationship between legislative dialogue and racial violence opens the door for inquiry regarding contemporary immigration policies and the potential for the development of modern-day racial institutional orders.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365048