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Impossible Subjects:
Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America
Mae M. Ngai
With a new foreword by the author

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]

ADDITIONAL REVIEWS:

"Impossible Subjects offers an important contribution to U.S. histories of race, citizenship, and immigration. This stunning history of U.S. immigration policy dispels the liberal rhetoric that underlies popular notions of immigrant America, as it establishes the designation of Asians and Mexicans as perpetual racial others. Everyone in the field of race and immigration should read this thought provoking book."--Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, American Journal of Sociology

"This superb book by historian Mae Ngai addresses the emergence of the legal and social category of 'illegal immigrant' in the United States. . . . Ngai addresses the subject . . . in a variety of historical contexts and each casts a different light on their deeply ambiguous condition."--Linda Bosniak, Journal of International Migration and Integration

"Moving beyond the telos of immigrant settlement, assimilation, and citizenship and the myth of 'immigrant America,' Mae Ngai's Impossible Subjects conceptualizes immigration not as a site for assessing the acceptability of the immigrants, but as a site for understanding the racialized economic, cultural, and political foundations of the United States."--Yen Le Espiritu, Western Historical Quarterly

"Mae Ngai's book . . . offers a fascinating reinterpretation and critique of the United States as a mythicized 'nation of immigrants.' Ngai demonstrates the critical role that colonialism, foreign policy considerations and racial politics played in shaping U.S. immigration and national identity. . . . Ngai's book is an extraordinary contribution to U.S. immigration history and a stimulating read."--Dr. Alison Pennington, Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law

ADDITIONAL ENDORSEMENTS:

"While vernacular discussion of the so-called 'illegal alien' in the United States has generally fixed on the alien side of the equation, Mae Ngai's luminous new book focuses rather on the illegal--the bureaucratic and ideological machinery within legislatures and the courts--that has created a very particular kind of pariah group. Impossible subjects is a beautifully executed and important contribution: judicious yet impassioned, crisply written, eye-opening, and at moments fully devastating. All of which is to say, brilliant. Would that such a story need not be told."--Matthew Frye Jacobson, Yale University, author of Barbarian Virtues: the United states Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917

"In Impossible Subjects' Mae Ngai has written a stunning history of U.S. immigration policy and practice in that often forgotten period, 1924-1965. Employing rich archival evidence and case studies, Ngai marvelously shows how immigration law was used as a tool to fashion American racial policy particularly toward Asians and Mexicans though the differential employment of concepts such as "illegal aliens," "national origins," and "racial ineligibility to citizenship". For those weaned on the liberal rhetoric of an immigrant America this will be a most eye-opening read."--Ramón A. Gutiérrez, author, When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1848.

"Impossible Subjects' makes an outstanding contribution to U.S. histories of race and citizenship. Ngai's excellent discussions of the figure of the illegal alien, and laws regarding immigration and citizenship, demonstrate the history of U.S. citizenship as an institution that produces racial differences. This history explains why struggles over race, immigration, and citizenship continue today."--Lisa Lowe, UC San Diego, author of Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics

"At the cutting edge of the new interdisciplinary and global immigration history, Ngai unpacks the place of 'illegal aliens' in the construction of modern American society and nationality. Theoretically nuanced, empirically rich, and culturally sensitive, the book offers a powerful vista of how the core meaning of 'American' was shaped by those--Filipinos, Mexicans, Chinese,and Japanese--held in liminal status by the law."--David Abraham, Professor of Law, University of Miami

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File created: 11/21/2014

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