The Geopolitics of Mobility: Immigration Policy and American Global Power in the Long Twentieth Century.

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  • Author(s): Kramer, Paul A. (AUTHOR)
  • Source:
    American Historical Review. Apr2018, Vol. 123 Issue 2, p393-438. 46p.
  • Additional Information
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    • Abstract:
      While the history of U.S. immigration policy has traditionally been directed "inward," toward questions of American law, institutions, policy regimes, and modes of national belonging, an emerging historical scholarship is asking how U.S. immigration policy has been shaped by U.S. foreign relations. This essay draws together, builds on, and transforms this literature by foregrounding new questions of transnational, imperial, and global inequality in the making of U.S. immigration politics and policy, and by problematizing not only closures and exclusions, but selective openings in the U.S. immigration regime. Despite conventional claims that immigration is and has been a matter of "domestic" politics, in fact, U.S. immigration policy has long been self-consciously engaged with transnational realities. Indeed, as the essay argues, while serving as a way that Americans could define the nation against an "outside," U.S. immigration policy has simultaneously been instrumentalized to project U.S. national-imperial power out into the world. This geopolitics of mobility has taken wide-ranging, overlapping, and often contradictory forms: the pursuit of labor power, the management of overseas colonies, the diffusion of U.S. goods, practices, and values, the building of legitimacy, the containment of enemies, and the rescue of friends. An imperial history of U.S. immigration control has the capacity both to frame new historical inquiries and to draw attention to the crucial ways that many migrants to the United States have already been enmeshed in U.S.-centered fields of power long before they approach the recognized boundaries of the U.S. state. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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