Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor, and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation

TitleCoolies and Cane: Race, Labor, and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsJung, Moon-Ho
Number of Pages275
PublisherJohns Hopkins University Press

How did thousands of Chinese migrants end up working alongside African Americans in Louisiana after the Civil War? With the stories of these workers, this volume advances an interpretation of emancipation that moves beyond U.S. borders and the black-white racial dynamic. Tracing American ideas of Asian labor to the sugar plantations of the Caribbean, the author argues in his monograph that the racial formation of "coolies" in American culture and law played a pivotal role in reconstructing concepts of race, nation, and citizenship in the United States. Based on  archival research, this study reveals how American impulses to recruit and exclude coolies enabled and justified a series of historical transitions: from slave-trade laws to racially coded immigration laws, from a slaveholding nation to a "nation of immigrants," and from a continental empire of manifest destiny to a liberating empire across the seas. Combining political, cultural, and social history, this volume is a study of race, Reconstruction, and Asian-American history.

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