Session Abstract: This panel discusses the history of legal change and Chinese subjects of the law around the Pacific Rim. It puts distinct scholarships (Chinese diaspora studies, Chinese legal history, American immigration history) about Chinese people’s right to judicial justice into conversation with each other.
Shumeng Han’s research uses the rich judiciary data at Jiangjin County, Sichuan, China to examine the impact of legal professionalization upon generational disputes. She finds the process towards rule of law substantially supported the younger generation’s independence from both families and administrative branches of the government. The establishment of formal courts and the emergence of modern legal personnel diminished the prowess of elderly authority.
Tian Xu’s paper shifts the focus to San Francisco, where Chinese immigrants sought white lawyers’ help during the Chinese exclusion era. It examines the evolving career patterns of more than thirty immigration attorneys and their work with Chinese immigrants. In San Francisco, judicial justice gradually gave place to the expansion of administrative justice in immigration affairs. As a result, this paper argues that the legal experience of Chinese immigrants took a trajectory opposite to that experienced by the Chinese community in Jiangjin.
Barry McCarron examines the comparative experiences of Chinese and Irish immigrants in the US West, Australia, British Columbia, and New Zealand over the second half of the nineteenth century. While many within the dominant Anglo-Scottish population perceived both groups as racially inferior, Chinese immigrants, unlike Irish immigrants who enjoyed the legal status of “white,” faced various exclusion laws. More broadly, McCarron’s paper enriches understanding of the significance of law and race on the experiences of immigrants in nineteenth-century Anglophone Pacific settler-colonial societies.
Paper Presenter: Tian Atlas Xu – The Catholic University of America
Paper Presenter: Shumeng Han – University of California, San Diego
Paper Presenter: Barry McCarron – New York University