The Burden of White Supremacy
Containing Asian Migration in the British Empire and the United States
University of North Carolina Press 2016
New Books in Asian American StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network April 19, 2018 Ian Shin
Recent historical scholarship stresses the transnational linkages between movements to restrict Asian migration in the Anglophone world. David Atkinson’s The Burden of White Supremacy: Containing Asian Migration in the British Empire and the United States (UNC Press, 2016) offers an important revision to this literature by examining legal and social responses to Japanese and South Asian mobility in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and the U.S. between 1896 and 1924. Atkinson argues that, while these various geographies shared similar ideologies and motivations for restricting Asian mobility, local conditions—for example, economic conditions, proximity to Asia, structures of political governance, and the number of real vs. prospective Asian migrants—were far more determinative of exclusionary campaigns and policies. The resulting imperial discord and international tensions constituted the “burden of white supremacy.” In this conversation, Atkinson shares insights from this complex history, as well as his approach to researching and crafting a multi-national, multi-archival project.