Paper Lives of Chinese Migrants and the History of the Undocumented

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Historians know a great deal more about the laws and policies that first created unauthorized status than the people who had to live within these constraints. What if we tell the history of the undocumented as a history of a people, rather than a history of a state-constructed category? Scholars have noted that unauthorized status exerts broad effects on the conditions of migrants' everyday lives, but they have focused primarily on Latinx migrants in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The case of unauthorized migrants produced by the Chinese exclusion laws (1882-1943) demonstrates how the study of the undocumented must begin a century earlier. In order to denaturalize the conditions of the present, we must interrogate the shifting nature of undocumented life in the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2100009
Pages (from-to)109-130
Number of pages22
JournalModern American History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History


Dive into the research topics of 'Paper Lives of Chinese Migrants and the History of the Undocumented'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this