Publication Date

April 2019

Advisor(s)

Yu-ting Huang

Major

American Studies (AMST)

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

“Negotiating the Nation: Encounters of Hemispheric Chinese Migration and U.S. National Borders” locates Angel Island Immigration Station as a transfer site, processing passengers who identify multinational or transnational final destinations throughout the Americas. This thesis expands on existing scholarship that primarily situates Angel Island as an immigration station for those seeking to enter and settle in the United States. Using historical archives of immigration files and textual readings of poems engraved by Chinese migrants while detained on Angel Island, this thesis foregrounds the middle part of the journey where U.S. immigration machinery arrests a transnational movement of Chinese migration. The first chapter engages with the unique source of the poems to observe this meeting from the perspectives of the Chinese migrants, examining their construction of transnational destinations on Angel Island. The second chapter turns to official case files of passengers traveling under the legally sanctioned transit privilege, to examine how immigration inspectors contended with the challenges of administering U.S. national policy on those with destinations that took them outside of the United States. The final chapter centers on two passengers from the borderlands, following immigration officials’ negotiations on applying U.S. Chinese exclusion policy onto two racially and nationally ambiguous individuals. This thesis argues for the need to de-centralize the United States in order to better understand this time period, highlighting a disjuncture between the bureaucratic assumed vision of those arriving and the reality of their more complex worlds. In doing so, this thesis recognizes the hemispheric consequences of U.S. immigration decisions for those with transnational destinations.

Available for download on Thursday, April 15, 2021

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