About the Conference

This virtual conference brings together historians and scholars from related disciplines to revisit the exclusion of migrants and their agency in coping with exclusion in light of the dynamics of mobility in the Pacific realm. Participants focus on the entangled ways in which migration, exclusion, and racism have influenced government policies, perceptions of migrants in host societies, and migrants’ agency in that region since the nineteenth century. Shaped by colonial and imperial legacies, migration regimes around the globe today still operate at the nexus of mobility, racism, and xenophobia. This dynamic is twofold, as negative prejudice goes hand in hand with positive discriminatory attitudes and practices that produce privileged modes of mobility. Migrants’ reactions to negative prejudice and exclusion have ranged from resistance to adaption to indifference, all of which can become means of coping. The formation of coping strategies, in turn, can contribute to the empowering of migrant communities and to the development of more inclusive societies. To develop these perspectives, participants will explore the shifting intersections and interactions between migration and exclusion through empirical case studies. Ultimately, we hope to gain a more comprehensive picture of the nexus of migration, exclusion, and migrants’ agency. The conference is part of the Max Weber Foundation’s collaborative research project “Knowledge Unbound,” module “Interaction and Knowledge in the Pacific Region: Entanglements and Disentanglements.” 


Monday, June 7, 2021


6 – 7:10 a.m. (Pacific)
9 – 10:10 a.m. (East Coast)
3 – 4:10 p.m. (Germany)
4 – 5:10 p.m. (Moscow)
9 – 10:10 p.m. (China)
10 – 11:10 p.m. (Japan)
11 p.m. – 12:10 a.m (Melbourne)

The Chinese Question: Chinese Migration and Global Politics in the Nineteenth Century

Simone Lässig (German Historical Institute Washington): Welcome and Introductory Remarks

Mae Ngai (Columbia University): Lecture 

Payal Banerjee (Smith College): Commentary


Panel 1

7:15 – 8:30 a.m. (Pacific)
10:15 – 11:30 a.m. (East Coast)
4:15 – 5:30 p.m. (Germany)
5:15 – 6:30 p.m. (Moscow)
10:15 – 11:30 p.m. (China)
11:15 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. (Japan)
12:15 – 1:30 a.m (Melbourne)

Regulating Space and Place in Late Qing China

Nan-Hsu Chen (Washington University in St. Louis):
States, Settler-Aboriginal Alliances, and Stateless Space in Maritime Southeast Qing China in the 1860s

Christina Till (China Branch Office Beijing, Max Weber Stiftung):
Administering the Borderland Empire:
Multiethnic and Multilingual Archives in Heilongjiang Province in the Late Qing Dynasty

Elliott Young (Lewis & Clark College):
Beyond Chinese ‘Coolies’ as Victims

Commentary:  Gabriel Terol Rojo (Universidad de Valencia)

Chair: Sarah Beringer (German Historical Institute Washington)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Panel 2

6 – 7:15 a.m. (Pacific)
9 – 10:15 a.m. (East Coast)
3 – 4:15 p.m. (Germany)
4 – 5:15 p.m. (Moscow)
9 – 10:15 p.m. (China)
10 – 11:15 p.m. (Japan)
11 p.m. – 12:15 a.m (Melbourne)

Cultural Encounters and Exclusion Along the Pacific Rim

Kristie Patricia Flannery (IHSS, Australian Catholic University):
Empire by Expulsion: Analyzing the First Forced Mass Migration in the Pacific World and its Legacies

Luise Fast (Universität Bielefeld):
Navigating Cultural Encounter in the North: Interpreters in Nineteenth-Century Alaska 

Kankan Xie (Peking University):
Harnessing Nationalism: Chinese Education in the Late-Colonial Dutch East Indies, 1900-1942

Commentary: Evelyn Hu-DeHart (Brown University)

Chair: Sören Urbansky (Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington)

Panel 3

7:20 – 8:30 a.m. (Pacific)
10:20 – 11:30 a.m. (East Coast)
4:20 – 5:30 p.m. (Germany)
5:20 – 6:30 p.m. (Moscow)
10:20 – 11:30 p.m. (China)
11:20 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. (Japan)
12:20 – 1:30 a.m (Melbourne)

Hemispheric and Transpacific Approaches Toward Regulating Mobility

Ricardo Martínez Esquivel (Universidad de Costa Rica):
Unwanted Immigrants, Social Control, and Exclusion in Costa Rica from the Nineteenth to the Twentieth Century

Kathy Lopez (Rutgers University):
Hemispheric Mobilities and the Limitations of Restrictions: A Comparative View of Chinese and European Migrants in an Age of Exclusion

Chrissy Yee Lau (California State University – Monterey Bay):
Racial Arbiters: Uplift and the Japanese Diaspora Youth, 1924-1934

Commentary: David FitzGerald (University of California, San Diego)

Chair: Albert Manke (Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington)

wednesday, June 9, 2021

Panel 4

6 – 7:15 a.m. (Pacific)
9 – 10:15 a.m. (East Coast)
3 – 4:15 p.m. (Germany)
4 – 5:15 p.m. (Moscow)
9 – 10:15 p.m. (China)
10 – 11:15 p.m. (Japan)
11 p.m. – 12:15 a.m (Melbourne)

Panel 5

7:20 – 8:30 a.m. (Pacific)
10:20 – 11:30 a.m. (East Coast)
4:20 – 5:30 p.m. (Germany)
5:20 – 6:30 p.m. (Moscow)
10:20 – 11:30 p.m. (China)
11:20 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. (Japan)
12:20 – 1:30 a.m (Melbourne)

Agency, Exclusion, and Belonging from the Cold War to the 21st Century

Fredy González (University of Illinois at Chicago):
Overseas Chinese Sworn Brotherhoods During the Cold War

Monica Cinco (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana – Iztapalapa):
From the Politics of Difference and Indifference to the Mexican State Requesting Forgiveness from Mexico’s Chinese Community

Commentary: Christoph Rass (Osnabrück University)

Chair: Benjamin Beuerle (Deutsches Historisches Institut Moskau)

Concluding Remarks


Payal Banerjee is an associate professor and the chair of sociology at Smith College. Her research on the political economy of migration and Indian immigrant IT workers on H-1B visas in the US has appeared in Critical Sociology; Women’s Studies Quarterly; Race, Gender, and Class; International Feminist Journal of Politics; Irish Journal of Anthropology; Social & Public Policy Review; Man in India; and, in several edited volumes. Payal has also worked on Chinese minorities’ incarceration and disenfranchisement in postcolonial India. This work has appeared in Huaqiao Huaren Lishi Yanjiu (Overseas Chinese History Studies, in Mandarin); Security and Peace; China Report; Asian Journal of Comparative Politics; and, in Doing Time with Nehru (2016) and in Sino-Indian Border War of 1962: New Perspectives (2016). As a member of the Borders Studies Group, Payal has co-published India China: Rethinking Borders and Security (2016). At present, Payal is working on a book that takes up the question of race, immigrant labor, and international political economy beyond the basics of neoliberalism and US immigration policies.

Sarah Beringer is the academic coordinator at the GHI in Washington and an associated Postdoc with the project “Interaction and Knowledge in the Pacific Region: Entanglements and Disentaglements”. Sarah received a PhD in Economics and Social Sciences for her research on the U.S.-Brazil trade negotiations from FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg in 2014. She is an expert on U.S. economic and energy policy as well as international relations, where she is mostly interested in the fields of trade and climate change negotiations between the U.S. and other major economies. Her current project focuses on U.S. green energy governance in the context of growing Chinese dominance in global renewable energy markets.

Benjamin Beuerle is a research fellow at the German Historical Institute Moscow (GHIM). He is the scientific coordinator both of the GHIM’s “Russia’s North Pacific” network project and of the inter-institutional project “Interaction and Knowledge in the Pacific Region: Entanglements and Disentanglements”. His current research interests cover late-Soviet and post-Soviet climate and energy policies as well as sustainable mobility approaches, including a focus both on regional (Far Eastern) and transnational perspectives.

Nan-Hsu Chen is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Washington University in St. Louis. He studies Qing borderlands and maritime Asia. His current project investigates stateless or loosely governed mountainous regions in southeast China in relation to the nineteenth century’s changing political landscape. He is also interested in teaching history and historical methodology in diverse educational settings.

Monica Cinco holds a PhD in Anthropological Sciences from UAM-I and a master’s degree in Asia and Africa Studies specializing on China from COLMEX. She studied Chinese language and culture at Sun Yat Sen University. Her topics of interest are transnational, migration, diaspora and urban anthropology studies. She has conducted field and archive research on the Chinese migration to Mexico. She has been published multiple times on the Chinese presence in Mexico with an anthropology and history focus. She promotes the Chinese Immigrations to Mexico Group, through which she has organized congresses and photography exhibits to recover the historical memory of Chinese descendants in the country. She actively participated in the public apology process from the Mexican State to the Chinese in the country for the expulsions that occurred in the 1930s.

Andre Kobayashi Deckrow is a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Heritage Studies and Public History program and the Department of History at the University of Minnesota. He completed his PhD in the History-East Asia program at Columbia University. A historian of global migration, his current book project examines Japanese state-sponsored migration to Brazil in the early twentieth century. He is interested in questions of colonialism, national identity, and citizenship. He has also been involved in public history projects exploring issues of migration and sanctuary in Minneapolis and Japanese American history in Southern California.

Luise Fast is a PhD student at Bielefeld Graduate School of History and Sociology and a teaching fellow at the Faculty of History at Bielefeld University. She holds a BA in History and American Studies as well as an MA in Global History, both from Heidelberg University. Luise’s research focuses on inter- and transcultural communication in the 19th century. In her PhD project, she investigates the lives and practices of interpreters in 19th century Alaska.

David Scott FitzGerald is Theodore E. Gildred Chair in U.S.-Mexican Relations, professor of sociology, and co-director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego. His research analyzes policies regulating migration and refugees in countries of origin, transit, and destination, as well as the experiences of people on the move. FitzGerald’s books include Refuge beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers (2019), winner of the ASA International Migration Section Best Book Award and ISA Human Rights Section Best Book Award, and Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas ( 2014), whose awards include the ASA Distinguished Scholarly Book Award. His co-edited books include Immigrant California: Understanding the Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Policy (2021). He is currently co-authoring a book titled Refugees: A Sociological Systems Approach.

Kristie Flannery obtained her doctorate in history at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently a research fellow at the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. Kristie researches and writes about the history and legacies of the global Spanish empire. Her new book exploring the history of piracy and colonialism in the early modern Philippines is under contract with U Penn Press.

Sonja Ganseforth is a human geographer and Principal Research Fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo. She has received her PhD from the University of Leipzig after studying Arab Studies, Japanese Studies, and German as a Foreign Language in Leipzig, Kyoto, and Damascus for her Magister degree. Her main research interests include globalizing agrifood systems, small-scale fisheries, rural livelihoods, the political ecology of food, development and sustainability discourses, as well as social movements in Japan. Recent publications include her monograph Occupations – Japanese Development Spaces in Palestine (Transcript, 2016; in German: Besetzungen – Japanische Entwicklungsräume in Palästina) and the edited volume Rethinking Locality in Japan (co-edited with Hanno Jentzsch, 2022).

Fredy González is an asociate professor of Global Asian Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His book, Paisanos Chinos: Transpacific Politics among Chinese Immigrants in Mexico, was published in 2017. He is currently working on a book project on the history of the Hong Men Chee Kung Tong.

Evelyn Hu-DeHart is professor of history, American studies and Ethnic studies at Brown University. She has written, edited and published 11 books, on three main topics, in four languages on five continents: indigenous peoples on the U.S.-Mexico border; the Chinese diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean; and race relations and minority politics in the U.S.  Select publications on the Chinese diaspora include these edited volumes: Across the Pacific: Asian Americans and Globalization (1999; e-version 2010); Asians in the Americas: Transculturation and Power (2002); Voluntary Associations in the Chinese Diaspora (2006); Asia and Latin America (2006); Afro-Asia (2008); Towards a Third Literature: Chinese Writings in the Americas (2012).  She is currently collaborating on two international research, public humanities and digital humanities projects: “Asia Pacific in the Making of the Americas: Towards a Global History” at Brown University and “Chinese Railroad Workers of North America” at Stanford University.

Simone Lässig is the director of the German Historical Institute in Washington DC with its Pacific Regional Office at University of California, Berkeley. She is a cultural and social historian of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research has focused on Jewish history, religion and religiosity, philanthropy and patronage, and memory cultures and the politics of memory. Simone Lässig has done work on educational media and she is particularly interested in digital history.

Chrissy Yee Lau is an Assistant Professor of History in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at California State University Monterey Bay. Her research and teaching interests include Asian American History, U.S. Women’s History, and Public History.

Jeffrey Lesser is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History and director of the Halle Institute for Global Research at Emory University. He is the author of numerous prize-winning books in English, Portuguese, Japanese, and Hebrew: A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese-Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy; Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil; Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question ; and Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity in Brazil. His current project, “Structural Health: Immigrants, the State, and the Built Environment in São Paulo, 1870-2020,” focuses on a multi-ethnic, working class, neighborhood to ask why different immigrant groups often generate similar responses to state actions regarding health.

Kathy López is an associate professor in the department of Latino and Caribbean studies and department of history at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her research and teaching focus on the historical intersections between Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, postemancipation Caribbean societies, race and ethnicity in the Americas, and international migration. She is the author of Chinese Cubans: A Transnational History (2013) which received the Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Prize of the Caribbean Studies Association. She has published numerous articles on immigration and mobilities, most recently “Gatekeeping in the Tropics: U.S. Immigration Policy and the Caribbean Connection,” in A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: U.S. Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965 (2019).

Albert Manke is a historian of Latin American and Global History, specializing in transpacific and inter-American entanglements and the history of the Cold War with a focus on Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines, and California. He is particularly interested in migrant networks, exclusion and coping strategies, as well as in the agency-centered histories of resistance and social movements in the Americas. Since 2019, he works as a research fellow at the GHI’s Pacific Regional Office in Berkeley in the project “Interaction and Knowledge in the Pacific Region: Entanglements and Disentanglements” which is part of the Max Weber Foundation’s large-scale research project “Knowledge Unbound.”

Ricardo Martínez-Esquivel currently is a full-time professor at the University of Costa Rica. He coordinates Latin American (and Hispanic) Americanistic Academic Network on Sinological Studies 拉美汉学研究学术网, founded and directs the REHMLAC+ Journal of Historical Studies on Latin American and Caribbean Freemasonry plus, and coordinates the International Program on Korea and East Asian Studies.

Mae Ngai is the Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, a professor of history, and the co-director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. She is the author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004); The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010); and The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics (2021).

Christoph Rass is a professor of modern history and historical migration studies at Osnabrück University and board member of the Institute for Migration Studies and Intercultural Research (IMIS). He is currently working on a book project on migration policies and knowledge transfer between Europe and the Americas during the interwar years together with Julie Weise (University of Oregon).

Gabriel Terol Rojo is an assistant professor and coordinator at the unit Language and Culture of the Extrem East at Valencia University, Spain. His research mainly focuses on Daoism, Chinese philosophy and comparative philosophy, intellectual history of China and on the role of the Chinese culture and the sinity concept in international business, Geostrategy and in all its applications. He studied at Shanghai International Studies University and as SDChF’s scholarship holder at Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Macau, National Taiwan University in Taipei and Peking University; in addition to the University of Valencia, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the University of Granada, among other Spanish universities.

Christina Till is a postdoctoral researcher at the China Branch Office of the Max Weber Foundation in Beijing. Her areas of research include the history of archives in China, the history of modern China and the history of Sino-foreign relations. She received a PhD from the department of Chinese language and culture at the University of Hamburg. Her doctoral thesis, titled “Saving China from Abroad? Chinese leftist students in Germany (1919-1939),” follows the lives of Chinese socialists and communists who studied in Germany during the interwar period. Christina studied at Fudan University in Shanghai and Beijing Foreign Studies University in Beijing. She also was a visiting researcher at National Taiwan University in Taipei and Saint Petersburg State University. She is currently working on the history of local and provincial archives in the borderland regions of the Qing dynasty.

Sören Urbansky is a historian of Russia and China in the modern era, specializing in imperial and racial entanglements, migration, infrastructure, and the history of borders. He is the head of the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington at UC Berkeley. Sören is the author of three monographs, including Beyond the Steppe Frontier: A History of the Sino-Russian Border (2020).

David Wolff is a professor of history at the Slavic Research Center, Japan’s national research center for the post-Soviet space. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Berkeley and the University of Chicago. He is the author of To the Harbin Station: The Liberal Alternative in Russian Manchuria, 1898-1914 (1999; 2014) and Le KGB et les pays baltes (2005). He has coedited several seminal trans-Pacific collections including: Rediscovering Russia in Asia, World War Zero: The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective and Russia’s Great War and Revolution in the Far East. He is presently completing a volume of Russian and Japanese documentation on the transit of the Soviet Union by Sugihara survivors in 1940-41 in collaboration with the Moscow Holocaust Center. Wolff is director emeritus of the Cold War International History Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a former Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow.

Kankan Xie (Ph.D., UC-Berkeley, 2018) is an assistant professor in the department of Southeast Asian Studies at Peking University. His research and teaching deal with various historical and contemporary issues of the broadly defined “Nusantara” (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore), particularly the region’s leftwing movements, the intersection of colonialism, nationalism & decolonization, as well as China-Southeast Asia relations during the Cold War. His current research focuses on the history of Indonesian leftism and the Chinese diaspora, funded by China’s National Social Science Foundation and the Institute of Overseas Chinese History Studies.

Elliott Young is a professor in the history department at Lewis and Clark College. Professor Young is the author of Alien Nation: Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie Era through WWII, Catarino Garza’s Revolution on the Texas-Mexico Border, and co-editor of Continental Crossroads: Remapping US-Mexico Borderlands History, and a new book Forever Prisoners: How the United States Made the World’s Largest Immigrant Detention System. He has also published seven peer-reviewed journal articles, eight book chapters and numerous other essays. He is co-founder of the Tepoztlán Institute for Transnational History of the Americas. He has also provided expert witness testimony for over 450 asylum cases. In addition to his scholarship, Professor Young has authored more than thirty opeds in national and regional newspapers, including the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle and the Oregonian. He is currently co-chair of the Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing (PCCEP).

Yufei Zhou is a senior research fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies. She obtained her PhD in intellectual history and social thought from the Osaka University and is specialized in the transfer of sociological knowledge between Europe and Asia. She has published several articles on the reception of Western concepts in East Asia.


Conference Conveners: Albert Manke und Sören Urbansky

Editor: Heike Friedman
Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington
202 Moses Hall
University of California 
Berkeley, CA 94720-2316 
E-Mail: friedman@ghi-dc.org
Phone: +1 510 643 4558

Header Image: Japanese immigrants being examined by U.S. immigration officials aboard a ship docked at Angel Island Immigration Station, 1931. © National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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