USA

New Book: The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, by Beth Lew-Williams

The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, by Beth Lew-Williams. Harvard University Press 2018. ISBN 9780674976016

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. Ultimately, Lew-Williams argues, Chinese expulsion and exclusion produced the concept of the “alien” in modern America.

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. When this unprecedented experiment in federal border control failed to slow Chinese migration, vigilantes attempted to take the matter into their own hands. Fearing the spread of mob violence, U.S. policymakers redoubled their efforts to keep the Chinese out, overhauling U.S. immigration law and transforming diplomatic relations with China.

By locating the origins of the modern American alien in this violent era, Lew-Williams recasts the significance of Chinese exclusion in U.S. history. As The Chinese Must Go makes clear, anti-Chinese law and violence continues to have consequences for today’s immigrants. The present resurgence of xenophobia builds mightily upon past fears of the “heathen Chinaman.”

Beth Lew-Williams is Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University.


“With scrupulous research and conceptual boldness, Lew-Williams applies the nuances of a ‘scalar’ lens to contrast anti-Chinese campaigns at local, regional, and national levels, producing a social history that significantly remakes the well-established chronology of Chinese exclusion by highlighting the role of anti-Chinese violence and vigilantism in advancing immigration controls on the Chinese from goals of restriction to exclusion.”—Madeline Y. Hsu, author of Asian American History: A Very Short Introduction

“The Chinese Must Go presents a powerful argument about racial violence that could not be more timely. It shows why nineteenth-century pogroms against the Chinese in the American West resonate today. White nationalists targeted Chinese immigrants as threats to their homes and jobs and blamed the American government for failing to seal the borders.”—Richard White, author of The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865–1896

“Moving seamlessly from the local to the international, The Chinese Must Go offers a riveting, beautifully written new account of Chinese exclusion, one that foregrounds Chinese voices and experiences. A timely and important contribution to our understanding of immigration and the border.”—Karl Jacoby, Columbia University


Table of Contents

Introduction: The Violence of Exclusion
Part 1: Restriction
1. The Chinese Question
2. Experiments in Restriction
Part 2: Violence
3. The Banished
4. The People
5. The Loyal
Part 3: Exclusion
6. The Exclusion Consensus
7. Afterlives under Exclusion
Epilogue: The Modern American Alien
Appendix A: Sites of Anti-Chinese Expulsions and Attempted Expulsions, 1885–1887
Appendix B: Chinese Immigration to the United States, 1850–1904
Abbreviations
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

New Book: The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government. By Richard A. Epstein

The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government.
By Richard A. Epstein.
Harvard University Press 2013.
ISBN: 9780674724891, 0674724895.

The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited GovernmentAmerican liberals and conservatives alike take for granted a progressive view of the Constitution that took root in the early twentieth century. Richard Epstein laments this complacency which, he believes, explains America’s current economic malaise and political gridlock. Steering clear of well-worn debates between defenders of originalism and proponents of a living Constitution, Epstein employs close textual reading, historical analysis, and political and economic theory to urge a return to the classical liberal theory of governance that animated the framers’ original text, and to the limited government this theory supports.

Grounded in the thought of Locke, Hume, Madison, and other Enlightenment figures, the classical liberal tradition emphasized federalism, restricted government, separation of powers, property rights, and economic liberties. The most serious challenge to this tradition, Epstein contends, has come from New Deal progressives and their intellectual defenders. Unlike Thomas Paine, who saw government as a necessary evil at best, the progressives embraced government as a force for administering social good. The Supreme Court has unwisely ratified the progressive program by sustaining an ever-lengthening list of legislative programs at odds with the classical liberal Constitution.

Epstein’s carefully considered analysis addresses both halves of the constitutional enterprise: its structural safeguards against excessive government power and its protection of individual rights. He illuminates contemporary disputes ranging from presidential prerogatives to health care legislation, while reexamining such enduring topics as the institution of judicial review, the federal government’s role in regulating economic activity, freedom of speech and religion, and equal protection.

New Book: Legal Orientalism: China, the United States, and Modern Law. By Teemu Ruskola

Legal Orientalism: China, the United States, and Modern LawLegal Orientalism: China, the United States, and Modern Law(《法律东方主义:中国·美国·现代法律》). By Teemu Ruskola. Harvard University Press 2013. ISBN: 0674073061, 9780674073067.

Since the Cold War ended, China has become a global symbol of disregard for human rights, while the United States has positioned itself as the world’s chief exporter of the rule of law. How did lawlessness become an axiom about Chineseness rather than a fact needing to be verified empirically, and how did the United States assume the mantle of law’s universal appeal? In a series of wide-ranging inquiries, Teemu Ruskola investigates the history of “legal Orientalism”: a set of globally circulating narratives about what law is and who has it. For example, why is China said not to have a history of corporate law, as a way of explaining its “failure” to develop capitalism on its own? Ruskola shows how a European tradition of philosophical prejudices about Chinese law developed into a distinctively American ideology of empire, influential to this day.

The first Sino-U.S. treaty in 1844 authorized the extraterritorial application of American law in a putatively lawless China. A kind of legal imperialism, this practice long predated U.S. territorial colonialism after the Spanish-American War in 1898, and found its fullest expression in an American district court’s jurisdiction over the “District of China.” With urgent contemporary implications, legal Orientalism lives on in the enduring damage wrought on the U.S. Constitution by late nineteenth-century anti-Chinese immigration laws, and in the self-Orientalizing reforms of Chinese law today. In the global politics of trade and human rights, legal Orientalism continues to shape modern subjectivities, institutions, and geopolitics in powerful and unacknowledged ways.

New Book: The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution. By Marcia Coyle

The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the ConstitutionThe Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution. By Marcia Coyle. Simon & Schuster 2013. ISBN: 1451627513; 9781451627510.

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The Roberts Court, seven years old, sits at the center of a constitutional maelstrom. Through four landmark decisions, Marcia Coyle, one of the most prestigious experts on the Supreme Court, reveals the fault lines in the conservative-dominated Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.

Seven minutes after President Obama put his signature to a landmark national health care insurance program, a lawyer in the office of Florida GOP attorney general Bill McCollum hit a computer key, sparking a legal challenge to the new law that would eventually reach the nation’s highest court. Health care is only the most visible and recent front in a battle over the meaning and scope of the U.S. Constitution. The battleground is the United States Supreme Court, and one of the most skilled, insightful, and trenchant of its observers takes us close up to watch it in action.

Marcia Coyle’s brilliant inside account of the High Court captures four landmark decisions—concerning health care, money in elections, guns at home, and race in schools. Coyle examines how those cases began—the personalities and conflicts that catapulted them onto the national scene—and how they ultimately exposed the great divides among the justices, such as the originalists versus the pragmatists on guns and the Second Amendment, and corporate speech versus human speech in the controversial Citizens United campaign case. Most dramatically, her analysis shows how dedicated conservative lawyers and groups are strategizing to find cases and crafting them to bring up the judicial road to the Supreme Court with an eye on a receptive conservative majority.

The Roberts Court offers a ringside seat at the struggle to lay down the law of the land.