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Migration, quarantine and control

Discussion Topics and Questions:

This week, we will tackle the strategies used by states to manage in-migration from outside their borders -- and the rationales underpinning the perceived need to control human movement (as opposed to the movements of capital, goods, or ideas). We will look at the emergence of border controls from the late nineteenth century to the present, and responses ranging from eager recruitment through industrialised assimilation to outright exclusion. My interests in this area focus particularly on the roles played by medical ideas and professionals; other topics for consideration are the roles of race, gender and sexuality; economics (in relation to class, but also in shaping the strategies and perceptions of receiving societies); and international, trans-national and global politics in shaping climates of restriction and/or permissiveness. I would suggest that all students consider Amy Fairchild's Science at the Borders (sampling, at least, material from each of the three borders she discusses). Students should also take on one additional reading tailored to their own interests from those listed below. As you move towards choosing your paper topics, you might wish to sample the primary sources available to you via online resources: I've listed a number of these below. I suggest that you each bring in an exemplary source for discussion in relation to your self-chosen reading! Technology permitting, I'll display these during our discussion, so please do send me the electronic link in advance if possible (or bring copies).



Alison Bashford, ed., Medicine at the Border: Disease, Globalization and Security, 1850 to the Present (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2006).

Lorie Conway, Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 2007).

Amy Fairchild, Science at the borders : immigrant medical inspection and the shaping of the modern industrial labor force (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003)

Alan M. Kraut, Silent travellers: germs, genes, and the "immigrant menace" (Baltimore ; London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)

Judith Walzer Leavitt, Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996)

Eithne Luibheid, Entry Denied: Controlling Sexuality at the Border (2002)

Nayan Shah, Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown, (Berkeley: University of California Press, American Crossroads Series, 2001).



Emily K. Abel, ‘From Exclusion to Expulsion: Mexicans and Tuberculosis in Los Angeles, 1914-1940’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 77 (2003): 823-849 SwetsWise

Barde, Robert.; Bobonis, Gustavo J. Detention at Angel Island: First Empirical Evidence  Social Science History, Spring 2006; Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 103-136 Database: Project Muse

Barkan, Elliott Robert, Return of the Nativists? California Public Opinion and Immigration in the 1980s and 1990s  Social Science History, Summer 2003; Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 229-283

Ronald Bayer and Amy Fairchild, ‘The Limits of Privacy: Surveillance and the Control of Disease’, Health Care Analysis 10 (2002): 19–35, SwetsWise

Heidi Bohaker; Franca Iacovetta Making Aboriginal People ‘Immigrants Too’: A Comparison of Citizenship Programs for Newcomers and Indigenous Peoples in Postwar Canada, 1940s–1960s The Canadian Historical Review, September 2009; Vol. 90, No. 3, pp. 427-461 Project Muse

Amy L. Fairchild, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Medical Gaze: The Political Economy of Immigrant Medical Inspection in Modern America’, Science in Context 19 (2006): 337 Project MUSE

Roxana Galusca From Fictive Ability to National Identity: Disability, Medical Inspection, and Public Health Regulations on Ellis Island cultural critique 72, spring 2009 137-163 Database: Project Muse

Libby Garland Not-quite-closed Gates: Jewish Alien Smuggling in the Post-Quota Years  American Jewish History, September 2008; Vol. 94, No. 3, pp. 197-224 Database: Project Muse

Mark Harrison, 'Quarantine, Pilgrimage, and Colonial Trade: India 1866-1900', Indian Economic and Social History Review, 29, 2 (1992), 117-44.

Mark Harrison, 'Disease, Diplomacy and International Commerce: The Origins of International Sanitary Regulation in the Nineteenth Century', Journal of Global History, 1 (2006), 197-217.

Alan M. Kraut, ‘Foreign Bodies: The Perennial Negotiation over Health and Culture in a Nation of Immigrants’, Journal of American Ethnic History 23 (2004): pp. 3-22. Electronic Journal

Krista Maglen, ‘Importing Trachoma: The Introduction into Britain of American Ideas of an 'Immigrant Disease', 1892-1906’, Immigrants & Minorities 23 (2005): pp 80 – 99

Krista Maglen, A World Apart: Geography, Australian Quarantine, and the Mother Country  Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, April 2005; Vol. 60, No. 2, pp. 196-217 Project Muse

Howard Markel, Alexandra Minna Stern, ‘The Foreignness of Germs: The Persistent Association of Immigrants and Disease in American Society’, Milbank Quarterly 80 (2002): 757 SwetsWise

Marc McLeod "We Cubans Are Obligated Like Cats to Have a Clean Face": Malaria, Quarantine, and Race in Neocolonial Cuba, 1898-1940  The Americas, July 2010; Vol. 67, No. 1, pp. 57-81 Database: Project Muse

Morris-Suzuki, Tessa Invisible Immigrants: Undocumented Migration and Border Controls in Postwar Japan The Journal of Japanese Studies, Winter 2006; Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 119-153 Database: Project Muse

Peña, Susana "Obvious Gays" and the State Gaze: Cuban Gay Visibility and U.S. Immigration Policy during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift Journal of the History of Sexuality, July 2007; Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 482-514 Database: Project Muse

Alexandra Minna Stern, ‘Buildings, Boundaries, and Blood: Medicalization and Nation-Building on the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1910-1930’, The Hispanic American Historical Review 79 (Feb., 1999), pp. 41-81. JSTOR

Philip E. Wolgin; Irene Bloemraad "Our Gratitude to Our Soldiers": Military Spouses, Family Re-Unification, and Postwar Immigration Reform  Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Summer 2010; Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 27-60 Project Muse


Electronic resources

The [UK] National Archives' Moving Here exhibition is an excellent place to start looking at the diversity of immigrants' experiences and governmental responses:

Understandings of contagion have played a key role in shaping responses to immigrants. For a visual vocabulary of contagion in the 20th century, see:

Eugenics too was a key aspect of the climate of response in the US and Western Europe. Explore it here: and here:

The New York Public Library lists over 400 digitized items for 'immigration' alone, many of which would be suitable primary sources:

Similarly, the Australian National Library offers rich pickings, particularly for materials on 'White Australia'. The Vrroom (virtual reading room) environment makes the resources easier to find via a speculative search:

Nor would any list of electronic resourceson this topic be complete without the [US] Library of Congress American History and American Memory websites: and

The 'Bracero' programme in the USA offers a vital window on labour migration:

For more contemporary evidence and responses to issues of migration see:

The immigrants project: an online collection of oral history interviews documenting the experiences of recent arrivals to Reading, UK