The Dr. Jean Shim Yun Lecture Series spotlights scholarly research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Each year, the Series invites groundbreaking academics and artists to campus to enrich conversations of race, ethnicity, and identity, particularly in the context of the immigrant experience.
The inaugural event features Beth Lew-Williams, Associate Professor of History at Princeton University. A historian of race and migration in the United States, Lew-Williams specializes in Asian American history. Her book, The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), won the Ray Allen Billington Prize and the Ellis W. Halley Prize from the Organization of American Historians.
She will discuss her ongoing research into policing of Chinese migrants in the American West during the 19th-century, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. At that time, sexual commerce was common within the Chinese community, so common that it directly or indirectly shaped the lives of all female Chinese migrants. As a result, Chinese women and girls led deeply restricted lives. Traffickers sought to control and contain Chinese women, but so too did local law enforcement, immigration officials, missionaries, and husbands. By studying Chinese female runaways—and asking what they wished to escape, how they fled, and where they sought refuge—this talk will consider the intertwining forces that conditioned Chinese women’s lives.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Beth Lew-Williams is Associate Professor of History at Princeton University. She is a historian of race and migration in the United States, specializing in Asian American history. Her book, The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), won the Ray Allen Billington Prize and the Ellis W. Halley Prize from the Organization of American Historians. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, her next book project, John Doe Chinaman, will consider the policing of Chinese migrants in the American West.
about the moderator
Elena Shih is the Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University, where she directs a human trafficking research cluster through the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. Shih's forthcoming book project, "Manufacturing Freedom: Trafficking Rescue, Rehabilitation, and the Slave Free Good" (University of California Press), is a global ethnography of the transnational social movement to combat human trafficking in China, Thailand, and the United States. Shih serves on the editorial boards for The Anti-Trafficking Review, a peer-reviewed journal of the Global Alliance to Combat Traffic in Women, and openDemocracy's Beyond Trafficking and Slavery op-ed platform. In 2018 Shih was appointed to the Rhode Island State Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. Recent op-eds about her research and organizing as a core collective member of Red Canary Song appear in the New York Times and Providence Journal.