Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

  • Title: Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America
  • Author: Mae M. Ngai
  • ISBN: 9780691124292
  • Page: 364
  • Format: Paperback
  • Impossible Subjects Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America This book traces the origins of the illegal alien in American law and society explaining why and how illegal migration became the central problem in U S immigration policy a process that profoundly s
    This book traces the origins of the illegal alien in American law and society, explaining why and how illegal migration became the central problem in U.S immigration policy a process that profoundly shaped ideas and practices about citizenship, race, and state authority in the twentieth century.Mae Ngai offers a close reading of the legal regime of restriction that comThis book traces the origins of the illegal alien in American law and society, explaining why and how illegal migration became the central problem in U.S immigration policy a process that profoundly shaped ideas and practices about citizenship, race, and state authority in the twentieth century.Mae Ngai offers a close reading of the legal regime of restriction that commenced in the 1920s its statutory architecture, judicial genealogies, administrative enforcement, differential treatment of European and non European migrants, and long term effects In well drawn historical portraits, Ngai peoples her study with the Filipinos, Mexicans, Japanese, and Chinese who comprised, variously, illegal aliens, alien citizens, colonial subjects, and imported contract workers She shows that immigration restriction, particularly national origin and numerical quotas, re mapped the nation both by creating new categories of racial difference and by emphasizing as never before the nation s contiguous land borders and their patrol This yielded the illegal alien, a new legal and political subject whose inclusion in the nation was a social reality but a legal impossibility a subject without rights and excluded from citizenship Questions of fundamental legal status created new challenges for liberal democratic society and have directly informed the politics of multiculturalism and national belonging in our time.Ngai s analysis is based on extensive archival research, including previously unstudied records of the U.S Border Patrol and Immigration and Naturalization Service Contributing to American history, legal history, and ethnic studies, Impossible Subjects is a major reconsideration of U.S immigration in the twentieth century.

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      Posted by:Mae M. Ngai
      Published :2019-09-19T19:03:16+00:00

    About Mae M. Ngai


    1. Mae Ngai is a professor of Asian American Studies and History at Columbia University.


    158 Comments


    1. A very slow read but definitely worth it. Anyone who thinks illegal immigrants are taking over the country needs to pull his head out of his ass and read this.

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    2. If you are interested in immigration issues, you need to read this book. Mae Ngai examines the legal and ideological ways in which the subject of the illegal alien was formed. She has been faulted (correctly) for beginning her book in 1924 - that is not paying enough attention to the importance of the Asian exclusion laws (covered in a book like Erika Lee's At America's Gates). Nevertheless this book is unique and thorough and interesting. "Immigration restriction produced the illegal alien as a [...]

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    3. This book is very informative but also a very slow read. It was a lot of the author making a vague claim then saying, "Let's look at the history." and launching into a too-long explanation.

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    4. I am in no way an expert on this area of American history, so to me this book was pretty informative just in terms of filling in a fairly sketchy understanding of the history of immigration. The section on the construction of the illegal alien was particularly interesting. I do think the trajectory of Asian-Americans from "menace" to "model minority" could've been more fully articulated, and I would have also liked to read more about the relationships between different immigrant groups, instead [...]

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    5. Impossible Subjects is written using an interdisciplinary approach (drawing from migration studies, transnational migration histories, diasporic studies, “borderlands” methodology, studies of race and ethnicity and a critical approach to nationalism, xxi-xxiv) to broach the subject of the production of the category of (im)migrant “alien” in America. The text traces several key moments in the development of this category, chiefly the (re)negotiation of so-called Immigration Acts and Immig [...]

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    6. "Impossible Subjects" looks at the question of illegal immigrants to the U.S. and the government policy that created them. Our immigration policy was much more open before 1924 (except with regard to Asians, which is another whole story about extreme prejudice). We're not just talking about people who slip in over our southern border. The Canadian border has been a sieve at times and many have taken advantage of that. But mostly this is a story of the U.S. government's efforts to keep so-called [...]

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    7. Before you begin this, understand it's origin as a Doctoral dissertation. It is an academic work and I read it as part of an upper-level undergraduate history course. Because of its original intent this book is thorough in both documentation and analysis by Dr. Mae Ngai. In other words, read this with an open mind and a dictionary nearbyyou'll be a better person (definitely a better U.S. citizen) for it.If you are serious about understanding the history of immigration in the United States then t [...]

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    8. Ngai does a great job tracing immigration between 1924-1965 (although spreading across the 20th C). She weaves together histories of Asian and Latino immigration and the racialization of these two groups as peripheral Americans.

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    9. An intelligent and lucid analysis of the legal/policy/social construction of the category of illegal alien. Pairs well with Peggy Pascoe's What Comes Naturally and Margot Canaday's Straight State.

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    10. A sad but true story of the illegal immigrant experience in the US. As a Mexican-American, this helped me to see how Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have been perceived by American Establishment.

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    11. Just so. many. mic. drops. and. truth. bombs. BOOM! Excellent historical analysis.

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    12. Excellent read and very useful historiography on immigration, expanding the narrative to the west. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Manzanar.

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    13. Mae Ngai’s Impossible Subjects, a sociological and legal history, traces the evolution of the “illegal alien’s” position in early 20th century American life. She focuses on the period between the imposition of national origin quotas in 1924 and their penultimate reform by the Hart-Celler Act of 1965. Impossible Subjects owes an intellectual and evidentiary debt to Matthew Frye Jacobson’s Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Ngai accepts that “w [...]

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    14. This book is about the changing definitions of illegal alien and their connections to race, politics, and nationalism. The book ranges over a number of topics, including Mexican migrant workers, Chinese immigration/restriction, Japanese internment, and the liberal campaign to reform immigration in the 1960's. Some of these chapters were compelling, especially the discussion of reforms in the 50's and 60's. Still, this book is very dense, difficult to read, and not particularly well-written. Ther [...]

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    15. very comprehensive history and very good and important book, though i have to say based on how good other folks told me it was, i'm a bit disappointed. especially with the discussion of organized labor. the book sort of took up the worst of organized labor to make a slightly crude analysis of their white supremacy which was real esp. in leadership, but did not reflect the struggles and tensions around racism within labor unions (see Lipsitz). also, anyone know of a book on immigration history of [...]

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    16. Key book in immigration policy. Traces the racializing of citizenship between the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 and the Hart-Celler Act of 1965. Discusses the idea of constructing the "illegal alien." National quotas, racism, border patrol, agribusiness's all in here.On a more practical level it's a great book for understanding where American immigration law and policy comes from, and what the debate is about these days. I wouldn't recommend this book to the general reader, however. The legal history [...]

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    17. Immigration is a hot topic now. This book, while a bit academic, provides a great perspective on the issue by reviewing the history of immigration policy, particularly during the 1920s- 1960s in the US. Ngai has chapters on Mexican immigration, Filipino immigration, Chinese and Japanese immigrants. It shows the racial nature of immigration restriction. It also shows the tension between opening borders and restricting them, which inevitably leads to illegal immigration. Not an easy read, but a fa [...]

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    18. The scholar Mae Ngai explores the world of immigration from developing countries with emphasis on Filipino and Mexican nations. I like her writing style though it can be very academic at times. Ngai does balance with personal narratives to bring the reader into the lives of those experiencing racial prejudice. Ngai actually gives some concrete steps of how to effect change, which is refreshing.

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    19. This book challenges the assumption that "illegal" means "bad" in the case of immigration. It also asks us what citizenship really means, when the whims of Congress change its definition. What are the implications, we might ask, of harboring Americans -- ensconced in their communities -- that are not citizens?Well-written and well-researched.

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    20. Excellent - situates current understandings of "foreign"-ness with immigration policy over the last century. Especially loved the sections about how different populations came to be seen (simply because of policy!) as permanently "illegal".

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    21. 3.5 stars. I got lost a few times but it was a solid read.

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    22. A. Extranoary. Book. And. Back. Ground.

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    23. my favorite book from my thesis research

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    24. Ngai's was one of the first books to really tackle the history of Asian, Mexican, and other immigrants who came to America illegally. An instant classic.

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    25. I never really considered how important illegal aliens are to our economy and American lives as a whole. This book brings up really intriguing concepts.

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