Indians on the Move: Law, Borders, and Freedoms at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
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CitationDhillon, Hardeep. 2020. Indians on the Move: Law, Borders, and Freedoms at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractContemporary immigration and border controls in many White settler colonies can be traced back to the nineteenth century, when new patterns of Asian migration provoked nativist rage. In the United States, as in other settler colonies, White nativists responded to increased Asian migration with discrimination, drive-outs, and outright violence. US lawmakers codified anti-Asian fervor by passing legislation to detain, deport, and disenfranchise Asian migrants, while their bureaucratic counterparts colluded with foreign officers to deter new migrants.
The critical task of this dissertation is to illuminate the historical development of immigration and border enforcement in US, Asian, and British law and society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. “Indians on the Move” centers human geographies, trans-Pacific journeys, and microhistories of Asia to explicate the true scale of immigration and border controls, and migrant contestations of these restrictions. By tracing the journeys of individual colonial subjects as they migrated from India to the United States in an era of exclusion, this project unveils how immigration and border enforcement mechanisms extended far beyond territorial borders and mapped themselves across a series of contiguous, consecutive, and interconnected local spaces.
This project’s focus on Indian migrants, who traveled on the heels of other Asians, sheds light on the construction and consolidation of immigration controls at the intersection of colonial, settler colonial, and White supremacist strategies, as well as corresponding migrant resistance. These restrictive mechanisms transformed every step of a migrant’s journey, from local villages, train stations, and ports across Asia, to screening sites, borderlands, and small towns across North America. In drawing together histories of immigration and border enforcement, US and British imperialism, and Asian and Asian American studies, this dissertation articulates the assemblage of statutes, court cases, legal precedents, and enforcement mechanisms that generations of migrants encountered. It interweaves histories of deterrence and deportation, borderland and carceral studies, passport and visa restrictions, and alienage and citizenship across Asia and the United States to concretize a world history that resituates the origins of modern regimes of immigration and border enforcement in the United States, Asia, and beyond.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368487
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