- Theodore Saloutos Book Award
The Immigration and Ethnic History Society presents the Theodore Saloutos Book Award for the book judged best on any aspect of the immigration history of the United States. “Immigration history” is defined as the movement of peoples from other countries to the United States, the repatriation movements of immigrants, and the consequences of these migrations, both for the United States and the countries of origin. The winner receives a check for $2,000 and a certificate from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. Michael Innis-Jimenez (chair), Uzma Quraishi, and Deborah Kang, served on the committee. This year’s winner is Sarah Coleman’s The Walls Within: The Politics of Immigration in Modern America (Princeton University Press). Cian McMahon’s The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea During the Great Irish Famine (New York University Press) was selected for Honorable Mention.
Winner: Sarah Coleman’s The Walls Within: The Politics of Immigration in Modern America is a smart, highly readable, and meticulously researched history of immigrant rights in the late twentieth century. Writing about the new era of restriction that coalesced in the 1990s, Sarah Coleman’s book is an essential contribution to the field of immigration history. Coleman shifts the historiographical focus from border control and immigration admission policy to the crucial political battles regarding the scope of immigrant rights in the educational, labor, welfare, and civil liberties contexts. In the process, she traces the expansion and contraction of immigrant rights and the concomitant debates between immigration advocates and immigration restrictionists. The Walls Within further situates the development of immigrant rights in the larger cultural, economic, and structural transformations of the late twentieth century. Ultimately, as Coleman demonstrates, an understanding of immigration and border control is incomplete without an understanding of immigrant rights and the creation of the walls within.
Honorable mention: Cian McMahon’s Ship: Life and Death at Sea During the Great Irish Famine is a wonderfully written and impressively-researched history of the sea voyages taken by Ireland’s famine migrants to Australia, Canada, and the United States. Drawing upon extensive archival research on three continents, McMahon produces a rich narrative based almost entirely on the accounts of the migrants’ themselves. Their stories, as Cian McMahon demonstrates, challenge conceptions of the famine-era emigrant ships as so-called coffin ships and reveal how life, as well as death, took shape on these journeys. In particular, McMahon describes how the voyages strengthened old solidarities and created a new sense of community among the emigres. McMahon’s work serves as an exemplary model of situating transportation technologies such as the sailing ship as a “dynamic element of migration history.” This book also provides an outstanding primer on how to integrate migrants’ voices into our scholarship with nuance and sensitivity.
- First Book Award
The Immigration and Ethnic History Society presents the First Book Award to recognize the book judged best on any aspect of the immigration and ethnic history of the United States and/or North America. The winner receives a check for $2,000 and a certificate from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. Danielle Battisti (chair), Ashley Johnson-Bavery, and Carl Lindskoog served on the committee. This year’s winner is Jessica Ordaz, The Shadow of El Centro: A History of Migrant Incarceration and Solidarity (University of North Carolina Press).
Dr. Jessica Ordaz’s The Shadow of El Centro is a concise but rich history of the El Centro migrant detention center located in California’s Imperial Valley. Ordaz’s study interrogates the legal and policy histories surrounding the construction and operations of El Centro in the second half of the twentieth century. It also examines the ways in which both migrants and immigrant advocacy organizations responded to and resisted immigration enforcement strategies carried out at the detention center. It therefore offers a compelling narrative highlighting transnational elements of migrant solidarity and protest that situates detention centers like El Centro at the intersection of immigration and carceral histories. Detainees and their allies employed resistance strategies ranging from legal appeals, hunger strikes, labor slow-downs, fugitivity, and other means to demonstrate the punitive and violent policies at the heart of migrant detention along the southern border that continue to resonate beyond El Centro today.
- Outstanding Dissertation Award
The Immigration and Ethnic History Society presents an annual award for an outstanding dissertation in the field of North American immigration and/or ethnicity. The winner receives a check for $1,500 and a certificate from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. Anna Law (chair) and Yuridia Ramirez served on the committee. This year’s winner is Ivòn Padilla-Rodriguez, for her dissertation, “Undocumented Youth: The Labor, Education, and Rights of Migrant Latinx Children in Twentieth-Century America” (Columbia).
Dr. Ivòn Padilla-Rodriguez’s dissertation, “Undocumented Youth: The Labor, Education, and Rights of Migrant Latinx Children in Twentieth-Century America,” stood out in a field of impressive entries based on her innovative and creative use of data sources to discover migrant children in records not typically consulted by migration scholars. Also, her dissertation’s historiographic intervention of widening the categories of migrants that are studied and using children as a lens to discover previously unexamined mechanisms of exclusion and marginalization—sometimes despite US citizenship—moves the field forward in important ways, especially since it stands as the first examination of education of undocumented children before 1982. Her work will be of great interest not only to immigration historians, but also those who study labor, gender, and education.
- George E. Pozzetta Dissertation Awards
The Immigration and Ethnic History Society presents two awards of $1,000 each to help graduate students with their dissertations on American immigration, emigration, or ethnic history, broadly defined. These awards are intended for students in the process of researching and writing their dissertations. They are not intended for students completing and defending in the year of the award. Jana Lipman (chair), Katherine Carper, Hardeep Dhillon served on the committee. This year’s winners are Kimberly Phuong Beaudreau (University of Illinois at Chicago) and Connie Thomas (Queen Mary University of London).
Kimberly Phuong Beaudreau’s dissertation research offers a historical genealogy for the categories “refugee” and “economic migrant” in relation to migration from the Caribbean, Central America, and Southeast Asia in the late twentieth century. It underlines precisely how American state and political categorization changed in the late twentieth century from earlier moments in time by centering state and community voices. Beaudreau’s emphasis on studying the history of communities who moved from various regions of the world to the United States also situates the importance of relational race formations to the development of immigration law, the experiences of immigrants, and American politics. The project, more widely, brings together literature on international diplomacy, federal law, and border crossing through the methods of critical refugee studies. It also shows great promise for balancing the history of the American state in a global context with the experiences of immigrants themselves. While the committee evaluated the proposal in relation to its contributions to the discipline of history and the wider field of immigration studies, we also recognize its importance to understanding American immigration and border enforcement in our present. Beaudreau’s project is truly one that speaks to how immigration history remains so deeply relevant to our global state of affairs today.
Connie Thomas’s dissertation examines the foundations of United States immigration policy in the early republic, revealing that local, state, and regional differences were formative to the development of immigration policy in the United States. Her research looks at political debates over immigration as part of larger questions concerning citizenship and political participation. Central to these debates, Thomas argues, were local, state, and regional differences in ideas about citizenship and political participation. These differences, which Thomas partially attributes to growing partisanship and conflicting ideas about the economy, foreign policy, and slavery, affected how politicians discussed immigration and how the public responded to these debates. The committee saw Thomas’s project as complementary to an exciting strand of recent scholarship on the pre-1882 era of United States immigration policy. Thomas’s dissertation research will provide a crucial, in-depth treatment of federal and state immigration policymaking in this era and public perceptions of these policies. Thomas’s project has implications for our understanding of the role of partisanship in shaping immigration policy and the development of federal immigration law in the United States. The Pozzetta Award will allow Thomas, who is based in the U.K., to conduct research at archives in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston.
- Carlton E. Qualey Memorial Article Award
The Immigration and Ethnic History Society presents the Qualey Award for the best article published in the Journal of American Ethnic History in the previous calendar year. The committee (Cecilia Tsu, Yuri Doolan, and Suzanne Sinke, chair) confers this year’s Qualey Award on Julian Lim’s “Mormons and Mohammedans: Race, Religion, and the Anti-Polygamy Bar in U.S. Immigration Law,” 41, no. 1 (Fall 2021): 5-49. The committee noted the excellent, rich archival research on this little-known immigration law which makes a strong case for the significance of early US attempts to bar Turkish immigrants, and the unexpected connections between Mormons and Muslim Turks, for example in how Mormons were recast as American “Mohammedans,” or as Lim puts it: the “layering of Islamacist Orientalism onto American Mormonism.” The article contextualizes the history of racialized concern regarding the Latter Day Saints, showing how this led to the 1891 legislation and how that converged with concern over potential Ottoman immigrants. In so doing, it deepens our historical understanding of “exclusion era” immigration policies beyond the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 by integrating marriage, family, and religion into scholarship on race, empire, and US immigration law at the turn of the twentieth century. This has important implications for taking a longer view of recent anti-Muslim immigration policy and the policing of Muslim American communities post-9/11, showing how anxieties about race and religion have shaped the law and popular perceptions in the past as well.