History Department
History Department

IHS Workshop: "The Politics of Brain Drains"

Fri, March 25, 2011 | GAR 4.100

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

IHS Workshop:

Associate Professor of History and Director of  the Center for Asian American Studies Madeline Y. Hsu will present a workshop titled "The Politics of Brain Drains." Vanderbilt University Associate Professor of History Paul A. Kramer will provide comment.

The article discussed in this workshop weaves together several strands from Hsu's current book project which seeks to explain the transformation of Asian immigrants from “yellow perils”—whose intrinsic inassimilability and economic threat necessitated the creation of America’s immigration restriction bureaucracy—into model minorities whose statistically demonstrated successes demonstrate that the United States provides race-blind access to educational and economic opportunities. 

In the name of fostering stronger foreign relations, the Cold War impelled small shifts in immigration laws that privileged the admission of historically favored groups such as students and refugees even as they introduced criteria that benefited the United States economically. The fusion of international outreach and economic rationality unintentionally produced the migration flow now commonly known as “brain drain” which undermined the intellectual and capitalist exchanges the changes in law had been designed to produce.  

Despite these tremors, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations embraced such economically rational immigration restrictions as acceptable alternatives to the obstructively discriminatory older quota system based on race and national origins.  

The 1965 Immigration Act has legalized unprecedented levels of immigration from once prohibited realms of the world while selecting for those most likely to contribute economically to the United States. The current successes of the Asian American population—which is 70 percent foreign-born—must be weighed in light of these newer forms of discrimination.

About the author:

Madeline Hsu is the director of the Center for Asian American Studies and an associate professor of history at The University of Texas' History Department. The working title of her current monograph project is “Importing Racial Solutions:  Immigration, American Foreign Policy, and Chinese Intellectuals during the Cold War.” For more information: Professor Hsu's faculty page.

About the commentor:

Paul A. Kramer is an associate professor of history at Vanderbilt University. His first book, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines, (UNC Press, 2006) won the 2007 Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the 2007 James A. Rawley Prize, Organization of American Historians. For more information: Professor Kramer's faculty page.

RSVP required.
To RSVP, reserve your lunch, and receive a copy of the pre-circulated paper, please e-mail Courtney Meador at meadorcl@mail.utexas.edu by 9 a.m., Thursday, March 24.

Sponsored by: Center for Asian American Studies, Institute for Historical Studies, History Dept.

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