Boston and the Chinese Exclusion Act

October 17, 2017 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Boston Athenaeum
10 Beacon St
MA 02108
Chinese Historical Society of New England - CHSNE

This panel presentation, led by Tunney Lee with Shauna Lo and Lisong Liu, will cover the changing nature of Chinese immigration to Boston from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (CEA) through its full repeal in 1965 to contemporary times. With a focus on Boston and Massachusetts, this panel considers national laws and local sentiments to shed light on an immigration history that is continuing today.

Although the main driver for passage of the CEA were the conflicts on the West Coast between recently arrived European settlers and the Chinese immigrants, Boston and Massachusetts played key roles in the passage and enforcement of the law. The panelists will address Massachusetts’s politicians’ reactions to the CEA, racialized labor politics, Chinatown raids, the Immigration Station in East Boston, and legal employment for Chinese Americans. Panelists will continue the conversation on the growth of the Chinese community in Massachusetts after WWII through the War Brides Act, the Refugee Acts, and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the influence of international students, and expansion beyond Chinatown to Brighton, Fenway, Quincy, Medford, Malden, and other suburban towns.

Tunney Lee is professor emeritus of architecture and city planning at MIT and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His primary research focus is urban residential density, Boston’s Chinatown, and the planning history of Boston.

Lisong Liu is an associate professor of history at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. His teaching and research interests focus on Chinese emigration and nation-building, post-1965 Asian-American communities, US-China relations, and comparative and global migrations.

Shauna Lo is assistant director of the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she administers the institute and assists on programs and research projects related to Asian-American communities in Massachusetts.