Browse Exhibits (3 total)

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Asa Whitney's Vision

Asa Whitney created some maps in the late 1840s to aid his campaign to build the first transcontinental railroad across North America. I found them while researching American ideas about trade with China during the era of manifest destiny. They provide an example of how Americans saw their nation’s development as bound up with global trade –  specifically trade with Asia.

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Picturing the World: Snapshots of a Translocal Cantonese Peruvian Ecumene Circa 1924

This exhibit makes The Chinese Colony in Peru accessible to readers and also provides a reading of the album as a snapshot of a translocal Cantonese Peruvian ecumene. This translocal reading suggests ways of conceptualizing the history of Asians in the Americas and ways of engaging with questions of traffics, territories and modes of belonging (i.e. citizenship) that do not default into methodological nationalism. Rather, it suggests a way to take the social, cultural and geographic complexity of migrant worlds as both the point of departure and the end goal in the conceptualization of those histories. By shifting the analytic lens away from a focus on the album’s narrative of integration, traces of this translocal world become more visible. When read critically as a snapshot of a bigger Cantonese Peruvian ecumene, the album offers a glimpse into the social, physical and imagined geographical contours of this particular translocal migrant world that is all too easily eclipsed by the consolidation of bordered and settler nation states during the long 19th century.

Ana María Candela
Assistant Professor
Sociology Department
Binghamton University


Mapping Asian Americans (WWI)

This exhibit demonstrates an interactive map of Asian Americans (sampled) who registered for the draft during World War One. It includes an overview map as well as close ups of Astoria, Oregon; Chicago, Illinois, and Buffalo, New York. The map is part of an ongoing larger project documenting the presence and location of Asian Americans in the early 20th century through the World War One Selective Service Registration.

The draft registration asked registrants their names and current addresses as well as questions about their employment, place of birth, race, nationality, and citizenship status.

This information is vital to Asian American history in two ways. Firstly, the registration cards provide details about individual Asian American migrant men in the early 20th century, about whom little is known. The cards also include references to housing, places of employment, businesses, etc. that are sources of information about Asian American social, economic, and commercial experience at the time.

Secondly, migrant Asian American WWI servicemen stood at the nexus of competing social and political debates at the time about, on the one hand, restrictions and exclusions from immigration and citizenship based on race, and on the other hand, inclusions, specifically to citizenship, for demonstrated patriotism, loyalty, and military service. The quests of Asian immigrant servicemen, Bhagat Singh Thind and Hidemitsu Toyota, to gain naturalized citizenship, which was not guaranteed to all immigrants, took them to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled they were racially ineligible. Their subsequent lives and experiences followed the complicated trajectory of debates, laws, and government actions about Asian American racial citizenship in the 20th century.

For more information on the draft registration cards, see the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) web page on them as well as its description of the microfilm series.

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