The Geopolitics of Mobility: Immigration and U.S. Global Power in the Long 20th Century
This paper explores ways of connecting the historiographies of immigration and US global power from the advent of Chinese exclusion to the early 21st century securitization of US immigration control. It discusses the places in which US immigration historiography and US foreign relations historiography have overlapped, but also the reasons why these fields have, until recently, remained largely separated, despite the transnational orientations they have shared. It then reframes the history of US immigration policy from the late 19th century by focusing on the geopolitics of mobility: the ways that the question of who can cross US national boundaries on what term is inextricably connected to US efforts to project diverse kinds of power in the world. Toward this end, it discusses six overlapping and colliding geopolitical pursuits expressed in US immigration policy across the long 20th century: labor power, diffusion, colonial management, legitimation, enmity, and rescue.
Paul Kramer, Associate Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, is a leading voice in the history of U.S. engagement with the wider world. He is the author of the acclaimed book "The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines" (2006). In addition to publishing complex and important academic articles in the American Historical Review, the Journal of American History, the Radical History Review, and numerous edited collections, he is a prolific essayist, writing on topics as varied as torture and counterinsurgency, Guantánamo, the meandering Rio Grande, and the connection between the Iraq War and Katrina for Slate and the New Yorker among other venues.