Over the course of less than a century, the U.S. transformed from a nation that excluded Asians from immigration and citizenship to one that receives more immigrants from Asia than from anywhere else in the world. Yet questions of how that dramatic shift took place have long gone unanswered. In Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion
(University of North Carolina Press, 2019), Jane H. Hong
unearths the transpacific movement that successfully ended restrictions on Asian immigration.
The mid-twentieth century repeal of Asian exclusion, Hong shows, was part of the price of America's postwar empire in Asia. The demands of U.S. empire-building during an era of decolonization created new opportunities for advocates from both the U.S. and Asia to lobby U.S. Congress for repeal. Drawing from sources in the United States, India, and the Philippines, Opening the Gates to Asia charts a movement more than twenty years in the making. Positioning repeal at the intersection of U.S. civil rights struggles and Asian decolonization, Hong raises thorny questions about the meanings of nation, independence, and citizenship on the global stage.
This episode is part of a series featuring legal history works from UNC Press. Support for the production of this series was provided by the Versatile Humanists at Duke program.
Hong is an assistant professor of history at Occidental College where she specializes in 20th-century U.S. immigration and engagement with the world, with a focus on Asia.
Siobhan M. M. Barco, J.D. explores U.S. legal history at Duke University.