Associate Professor, American Studies and History, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Associate Professor, American Studies and History, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
AREAS OF TEACHING
Andy Urban is an Associate Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His current research focuses on Seabrook Farms, a frozen-foods agribusiness that contracted incarcerated Japanese Americans, guestworkers from the Caribbean, and European Displaced Persons during the 1940s and 1950s. He is a member of the IEHS Executive Board, the Executive Council of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT union, and has held NEH and Fulbright fellowships focused on how public humanities work can illuminate and make accessible histories of labor and migration.
Andrew Urban is an Associate Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. During the spring 2019 semester, he held the position of Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Klagenfurt in Austria, where he worked with students on public humanities projects exploring the history of local World War II-era Displaced Persons camps, and their place in Austrian collective and national memory. Andy’s first book, Brokering Servitude (NYU Press, 2018), examines how federal immigration policies and private intermediaries shaped labor markets for domestic service in the nineteenth and early-twentieth century United States, and dictated the contractual conditions under which migration occurred. His next book will be a history of Seabrook Farms, a frozen foods agribusiness and company town in southern New Jersey that recruited incarcerated Japanese Americans, guestworkers from the British West Indies, and European Displaced Persons and stateless Japanese Peruvians during the 1940s. Andy’s research on Seabrook Farms is also the subject of an online exhibition hosted by the New Jersey Digital Highway, which he curated with Rutgers’ students: https://njdigitalhighway.org/exhibits/seabrook_farms. Andy’s academic writing has appeared in the Journal of Asian American Studies, Journal of American Ethnic History, Journal of American History, Journal of Policy History, Gender and History, The Public Historian, and American Studies. His opinion pieces have appeared in the Washington Post, Newark Star-Ledger, Public Radio International, and Inside Higher Ed.
Broadly framed, my scholarship explores the strategies and tools that American employers have used to procure and exploit migrant laborers, and how workers have contested controls on their mobility. My first book, Brokering Servitude, examines how immigration policies shaped labor markets for Chinese, Irish, and Black American household workers in the nineteenth and early-twentieth century United States, and limited workers’ liberties by interpreting racialized and gendered servants as unfree laborers. Currently I am working on a history of Seabrook Farms, a frozen foods agribusiness in southern New Jersey that contracted incarcerated Japanese Americans, Black guestworkers from the Caribbean, and European DPs and stateless Japanese Peruvians during the 1940s. This project critically reexamines who benefited economically from forced relocations that occurred within the United States and abroad during the Second World War. A full list of my publications and writing is provided below:
Brokering Servitude: Migration and the Politics of Domestic Labor during the Long Nineteenth Century (New York: New York University Press, 2018).
Peer-Reviewed Articles, Book Chapters, and Encyclopedia Entries
“Not Caring, To Care: Radical Pedagogy During Covid-19,” The Abusable Past, the online publication of the Radical History Review, June 15, 2020, https://www.radicalhistoryreview.org/abusablepast/not-caring-to-care-radical-pedagogy-during-covid-19/.
“Restricted Cargo: Chinese Sailors, Shore Leave, and the Evolution of U.S. Immigration Policies, 1882-1942.” Published as part of “People-Works: The Labor of Transport,” a peer-reviewed exhibit and volume of essays hosted by the Mobility in History Blog, the online publication of the Transport, Traffic, and Mobility (T2M) association. November 2018, https://t2m.org/publications/mobility-in-history-blog/.
“Social Work and Substantive Justice: The International Institutes’ Response to Discriminatory Immigration and Naturalization Laws, 1924-1945,” Journal of American Ethnic History 37, no.1 (Fall 2017): 5-29.
“Digging Up the Backyard: Seabrook Farms and the Importance of Critical Local History,” invited submission to the “Teaching New Jersey History” section of New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 3, no. 2 (Summer 2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.14713/njs.v3i2.91.
Entry on “Alien Contract Labor Law/Foran Act (1885)” in Edward J. Blum, et. al., eds., America in the World, 1776 to the Present: A Supplement to the Dictionary of American History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2016), e-book, 34-5.
“The Advantages of Empire: Chinese Servants and Conflicts over Settler Domesticity in the ‘White Pacific,’ 1870-1900.” In Daniel Bender and Jana K. Lipman, eds., Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism (New York: New York University Press, 2015), 239-268.
“Imperial Divisions of Labor: Chinese Servants and Racial Reproduction in the White Settler Societies of California and the Anglophone Pacific, 1870-1907.” In Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk, Silke Neusinger, and Dirk Hoerder, eds., Towards a Global History of Domestic and Caregiving Workers (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 296-322.
“Yun Ch’i-ho’s Alienation by Way of Inclusion: A Korean International Student and Christian Reform in the ‘New’ South, 1888–1893,” Journal of Asian American Studies 17, no. 3 (October 2014): 305-336.
“Asylum in the Midst of Chinese Exclusion: Pershing’s Punitive Expedition and the Columbus Refugees from Mexico, 1916-1921,” Journal of Policy History 23, no. 2 (Spring 2011): 204-29.
Entry on “Rose Hum Lee,” in Allan W. Austin and Huping Ling, eds., Asian American History and Culture: An Encyclopedia (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2010), 200-1.
“Irish Domestic Servants, ‘Biddy,’ and Rebellion in the American Home, 1850-1900,” Gender & History 21, no. 2 (August 2009): 263-286.
With Jeff Manuel, “‘You Can’t Legislate the Heart’: Minneapolis Mayor Charles Stenvig and the Politics of Law and Order,” American Studies 49, nos. 3/4 (Fall/Winter 2008): 195-219.
With Lisa Blee, Caley Horan, Jeff Manuel, Brian Tochterman, and Julie Weiskopf, “Engaging with Public Engagement: Public History and Graduate Pedagogy,” Radical History Review 102 (Fall 2008): 73-89.
“‘Rooted in the Americanization Zeal’: The San Francisco International Institute, Race, and Settlement Work, 1918-1939,” Chinese America: History and Perspective 20 (2007): 95-101.
Guest editor, with Chantel Rodríguez, “Immigration Control and Resistance: Historicizing the Present Moment,” special issue of the Journal of American Ethnic History 38, no. 2 (Winter 2019).
- Co-author, with Rodríguez, “Introduction,” 5-8.
Guest editor, with Amy Tyson, “Calling the Law into Question: Confronting the Illegal and Illicit in Public Arenas,” special issue of the Radical History Review 113 (Spring 2012).
- Co-author, with Tyson, “Editors’ Introduction,” 1-11.
Op/Eds & Blog Posts
With John Seabrook, “South Jersey’s Seabrook Farms: Innovation, discrimination, and opportunity,” South Jersey Times, March 10, 2020, https://www.nj.com/opinion/2020/03/south-jerseys-seabrook-farms-innovation-discrimination-and-opportunity-opinion.html
“The deportation of an Iranian student shows the unchecked power of Customs and Border Protection,” The Washington Post, January 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/01/23/deportation-an-iranian-student-shows-unchecked-power-customs-border-protection/
“History Museums and Capitalism: The Need for Critical Conversations,” Gotham: A Blog for Scholars of New York City History, April 16, 2019, https://www.gothamcenter.org/blog/history-museums-and-capitalism-the-need-for-critical-conversations.
With Elliott Young, “IEHS Members Encouraged to Sign-Up for Expert Witness Database at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies,” Immigration and Ethnic History Society Blog, April 9, 2019, https://iehs.org/expert-witness-database/.
“Commentary: Classroom Enrichment Program Must Be Saved,” The Daily Targum, September 25, 2018, http://www.dailytargum.com/article/2018/09/classroom-enrichment-program-must-be-saved.
“Brokering Servitude,” The Page 99 Test Blog, March 4, 2018, https://page99test.blogspot.com/2018/03/andrew-urbans-brokering-servitude.html.
“Migrants, All: Bridging Conceptual Divides Between Black History and Immigration History,” From the Square, NYU Press Blog, February 12, 2018, https://www.fromthesquare.org/black-history-immigration-history/#.Wrke-IjwbIU.
“‘Better Than a Lazy American Husband,’” Lapham’s Quarterly, December 27, 2017, https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/roundtable/brokering_servitude. Excerpted and reprinted from chapter three of Brokering Servitude.
“Lifting the Curtain on Living History,” an invited blog post on my experience teaching the article “‘Ask a Slave’ and Interpreting Race on Public History’s Front Line: Interview with Azie Mira Dungey” from the Public Historian. HISTORY@WORK, The NCPH Blog, November 29, 2017, http://ncph.org/history-at-work/lifting-the-curtain-on-living-history.
With Caley Horan, “Who Bears the Burden of Risk?” Inside Higher Ed, October 21, 2016, https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2016/10/21/personal-liability-insurance-shifts-burden-risk-institution-individual-essay .
“A lesson from history about protecting migrant workers,” Public Radio International (PRI)’s, The World, June 2, 2016, http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-06-02/lesson-history-about-protecting-migrant-workers.
Newark Star-Ledger Guest Columnist, “Rutgers Muslim students fearful for future in wake of NYPD surveillance,” March 4, 2015, http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/rutgers_muslim_students_fearful_for_future_in_wake.html. Column subsequently serialized by Religion News Service.
“Guantánamo: The Exceptional Norm?” Guantánamo Public Memory Project Blog (March 19, 2012), http://gitmomemory.org/blog/blog/2012/03/19/reflection-guantanamo-the-exceptional-norm/.
“Emory Engages the World: Local Research and the Global University,” Magazine of Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library 4 (Fall 2010).
PROJECTS AND EXHIBITIONS
Project Director, History Workshop: Immigration Case Files and Stories of Restriction and Deportation. Collaborated with undergraduate History majors at Rutgers to produce an online exhibition that examines records from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Each student in the class was assigned an individual INS case file from the National Archives and Record Administration containing the interrogations, investigations, and appeal processes that determined whether an immigrant was eligible to enter or the United States or remain in the country following their initial landing. Students’ curation of these files and their analysis can be found here: https://blogs.libraries.rutgers.edu/hist-workshop-immigration/.
Project Director, States of Incarceration, Rutgers, New Brunswick. Oversaw the installation of the “States of Incarceration” exhibit, which was on display in Douglass Library from January 22 to March 9, 2018. “States of Incarceration” was created by over 500 students and community partners in 17 states and explores the roots of mass incarceration in the United States through local case studies – to open a national dialogue on what must happen next. For the exhibit and events at Rutgers, I trained three Aresty Undergraduate Research Assistants as tour guides and dialogue facilitators. As guides, these students led approximately 1,000 visitors on tours and in dialogues. I also arranged and coordinated a series of conference events and programming, which examined themes related to the different components of the “States of Incarceration” exhibit. This included a production of the play, The Castle, a screening of the film, Resistance at Tule Lake, and day-long conference on the history of Seabrook Farms and the challenges that migrant farmworkers face today. Information on the exhibition and conference can be found at: https://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/SOI. Media coverage available upon request.
Organizer/Curator, Invisible Restraints: Life and Labor at Seabrook Farms. Curated by Rutgers undergraduate and graduate students, this project explores the history of Seabrook Farms, a frozen-foods and canning agribusiness in southern New Jersey. During its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, the company employed more than 6,000 laborers. Seabrook was transformed during the World War II, when it became the largest recipient of Japanese American detainees from internment camps who, after receiving security clearance from the federal government, were eligible to participate in supervised release programs. At Seabrook, Japanese Americans worked alongside migrants from the U.S. South, contracted guestworkers from the British West Indies, German POWs, and, after the war, Japanese Peruvians and displaced persons from Eastern Europe. An online exhibition hosted by the New Jersey Digital Highway can be found here: www.njdigitalhighway.org/exhibits/seabrook_farms. Students also contributed content to the travelling exhibition, “States of Incarceration,” which was organized by the Humanities Action Lab. An online version of the traveling exhibition can be found here: http://statesofincarceration.org/.
Organizer/Curator, “Curating Guantánamo.” With Rutgers graduate and undergraduate students, researched, assembled, and curated content for two of the thirteen panels that comprise the Guantánamo Public Memory Project’s collaborative, traveling exhibition exploring the history of the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (for information on the project and partnering institutions, see: http://gitmomemory.org/). Panels for the exhibit focus on the US base at Guantánamo in the context of the War of 1898 and the negotiation of treaties with Cuba leasing the site. On display from February 18 through March 29, 2013 in the Douglass Library atrium. Supervised and trained two Aresty Undergraduate Research Fellows as exhibit docents and educators, offering tours of the exhibit to undergraduate courses at Rutgers. Organized March 29 conference with scholars, legal activists, and community members on Guantánamo and its histories, and the contemporary debates surrounding its continued uses. (Full information on the Rutgers events surrounding the exhibit can be found at: http://amerstudies.rutgers.edu/news-and-events/news/204-guantanamo.)
Organizer/Curator, “Chinese Exclusion in New Jersey: Immigration Law in the Past and Present,” a student exhibition examining how the passage and enforcement of Chinese Exclusion laws affected Chinese immigrants and Chinese American residents in New Jersey. Organized exhibition opening panel discussion exploring how immigration law and policy debates affect New Jersey and Rutgers today. On display in the Asian American Cultural Center, Rutgers University, Livingston Campus, May 3 – September 2, 2011. Available online through the New Jersey Digital Highway, hosted by the Rutgers’ Special Collections and University Archives: http://njdigitalhighway.org/exhibits/chinese_exclusion/.
Organizer/Curator, “Picturing Race at Emory,” a student exhibition documenting how race has been visualized and represented as part of Emory University’s history. Using photographs from the University’s Archives, this exhibit examined how race has been performed, captured, and depicted as part of Emory’s academic, social, and political history. On display in Woodruff Library, Emory University, May 4 – June 30, 2010. (Press coverage and images of exhibition available upon request.)
Curator, “Living and Learning: Chinese Immigration, Restriction, and Community in Brooklyn, 1850 to Present,” a museum exhibition that used oral histories and archival sources to examine the history of Chinese immigration to Brooklyn. Conducted oral histories with members of the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association; developed a walking tour of Sunset Park in conjunction with the exhibit. On display at the Brooklyn Historical Society, May 8 – Oct. 18, 2009. (Press coverage and images of exhibition available upon request. For additional information on the exhibit, see: http://brooklynhistory.org/exhibitions/live_learn.html#start.)
Co-curator, with Jeff Manuel, “Law and Order: The Career and Legacy of Minneapolis Mayor Charles Stenvig,” a museum exhibition and multimedia presentation that explored the career and legacy of Minneapolis Mayor Charles Stenvig, an independent candidate and former police officer elected on a “law and order” platform in 1969. On display in the Andersen Library Gallery at the University of Minnesota, March – May 2007. (Press coverage and reviews of exhibition available upon request.)
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