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Stranger Intimacy

Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West

Nayan Shah
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 358
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  • Book Info
    Stranger Intimacy
    Book Description:

    In exploring an array of intimacies between global migrants Nayan Shah illuminates a stunning, transient world of heterogeneous social relations-dignified, collaborative, and illicit. At the same time he demonstrates how the United States and Canada, in collusion with each other, actively sought to exclude and dispossess nonwhite races.Stranger Intimacyreveals the intersections between capitalism, the state's treatment of immigrants, sexual citizenship, and racism in the first half of the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95040-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    During the first half of the twentieth century, the western regions of the United States and Canada offered an enticing vision of mobility and opportunity for those willing to migrate there. As the story is usually told, numerous families from settled communities both within and outside the United States and Canada took up that challenge and made the journey, essentially transplanting the settled society of two centuries of European colonization of the Americas from its eastern seaboard to its western expanses.

    Yet if we look carefully into the historical record, we find that transient migrants of varied races and classes...

  6. PART ONE. Migration, Capitalism, and Stranger Intimacy

    • CHAPTER 1 Passion, Violence, and Asserting Honor
      (pp. 19-52)

      South Asian migration to North America has been part of a broader international movement of peoples since the 1790s. Sailors, servants, peddlers, and merchants from Madras, Bombay, and Bengal appear periodically and fleetingly in memoirs, customs registers, census records, and newspaper accounts from ports on every North American coast from Salem, Massachusetts, to New Orleans, and from Victoria, British Columbia, to Mazatlán, Mexico. In the 1890s, charismatic Hindu and Buddhist spiritual teachers and antiimperial crusaders arrived to speak at gatherings in Boston, New York, and Chicago, the most famous being Swami Vivekananda, who addressed the 1893 World Parliament of Religions...

    • CHAPTER 2 Policing Strangers and Borderlands
      (pp. 53-89)

      The majority of the male workers who circulated through the cities and towns of western Canada and the United States during the first two decades of the twentieth century did not migrate with their families. Neither, however, were they alone, isolated, alienated, or anonymous. Their presence challenged the ways in which people associated and public life was lived. In cities like Vancouver and Sacramento that were hinged by rail and roads to rural hinterlands where transient men worked temporarily on ranches and in orchards, lumber mills, and railroad construction, the mobility and sociability of male workers refashioned domestic arrangements, physical...

    • CHAPTER 3 Rural Dependency and Intimate Tensions
      (pp. 90-126)

      In the first decade of the twentieth century, South Asian migrants sought work opportunities in timber mills in the Pacific Northwest and farms and orchards in California. In the 1910s and 1920s, the majority of South Asians worked in farming. From the 1910s to 1930s, South Asian migrants concentrated in three California agricultural regions, the Sacramento Valley from Butte and Glenn Counties to Sacramento County, the San Joaquin Valley from San Joaquin County to Fresno and Tulare Counties, and the Imperial Valley on the border with Mexico. Like many of the Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Mexican migrants alongside whom they...

  7. PART TWO. Intimacy, Law, and Legitimacy

    • CHAPTER 4 Legal Borderlands of Age and Gender
      (pp. 129-152)

      The intensive policing and prosecution of interracial social and erotic relationships between males from urban Vancouver, British Columbia, to rural Tulare County, California, produced legal dilemmas and destabilized certainties about what counted as consensual relationships. The prosecution of cases of sodomy and gross indecency engaged legal reasoning and legal rules to address both male culpability and vulnerability that hinged on the interpretation of age, gender polarity, and coercion.

      In the early twentieth century, new legislation tightening definitions of proscribed sexual acts, partners, and disorderly public activity created a surge of arrests. Misdemeanor arrests for vagrancy and public indecency swept up...

    • CHAPTER 5 Intimate Ties and State Legitimacy
      (pp. 153-188)

      The institution of marriage has been a linchpin for debates about morality, kinship, belonging, and citizenship. Through conquest, territorial expansion, and encouraging labor migration, empire-states and nation-states have confronted diverse intimacies and struggled to establish the legitimacy of intimate ties. The administration of legitimacy occurred in legislation, in judicial trials, and in registration and licensing procedures. In liberal rule-of-law states, judicial trials, in particular, are a flashpoint of controversy and debate over government legitimacy. Judges and attorneys attempt to fit the particular circumstances of individual cases into the categories of monogamous marriage, concubinage, bigamy, polygamy, and sodomy. In European and...

  8. PART THREE. Membership and Nation-States

    • CHAPTER 6 Regulating Intimacy and Immigration
      (pp. 191-230)

      After working in Vancouver in lumberyards and investing in real estate since 1907, Hakim Singh Hundel returned to Punjab in 1910 to tend to his family after the deaths of his wife and father. Hakim’s widowed mother survived to care for his four sons, aged four to sixteen. After several months in Punjab, Hakim Singh sold his property and gathered his sons and mother to return with him to Canada. The family traveled by rail to Calcutta, then took a ship to Hong Kong, where Canadian regulations and steamship company policies forced them to separate. Hakim’s documented Canadian domicile permitted...

    • CHAPTER 7 Strangers to Citizenship
      (pp. 231-260)

      The U.S. and Canadian governments blocked South Asian immigrants’ ability to claim national citizenship. In the first decades of the twentieth century, both federal governments addressed the question of the citizenship rights of South Asian immigrants through an emerging division into “white” and “non-white” that reinforced white settlers’ subordination of indigenous and “colored” peoples. Serving as the political fusion of privilege and identity, national citizenship became a gateway for the distribution of state resources, access to material benefits, and the privileges of political participation.¹

      The battle over claiming citizenship was contested on the terrain of race. In the United States,...

  9. Conclusion: Estrangement and Belonging
    (pp. 261-274)

    Migrants participated in communities around the rim of the Pacific Ocean in locations from the British crown colony of Hong Kong and the British Dominion of Canada to the U.S. imperial possessions of the Philippines, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal Zone, through the republic of Mexico and the United States of America. In the first half of the twentieth century, the populations of cities and rural towns boomed around the Pacific Rim and especially in North America, and transient male migrants who worked the fields, canneries, forests, and ships helped transform them physically and materially.

    The mobility and survival of...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 275-306)
    (pp. 307-332)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 333-347)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 348-348)