NMSU to host talk on Mexican and Chinese immigrants’ influence on Los Angeles

April 16, 2014

New Mexico State University’’s Center for Latin American and Border Studies will host a talk on the effect Mexican and Chinese immigrants had in Los Angeles, featuring Department of History Assistant Professor Isabela Seong Leong Quintana at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at the Nason House, 1070 University Ave.

Her talk is titled “Bodies and Borderlands: Mexicans and Chinese in the Los Angeles Riots of 1871.” Quintana is finishing a book manuscript, “Urban Borderlands: Neighborhood and Nation in Chinese and Mexican Los Angeles, 1870s-1930s,” that examines how U.S. national borders are mapped onto Los Angeles’ Chinatown and Sonoratown neighborhoods surrounding the Plaza.

“”My paper will discuss the so-called “Chinese Massacre” that happened in 1871 in Los Angeles, an event that is often thought of as “LA’s first race riot,”” Quintana said. “”Racialized relationships are often understood in Anglo-Mexican, white-Asian or black-white terms. My paper shows that these relationships were much more complex. ”

“The riot that took place in 1871 included Mexicans, Anglos and Chinese residents, who lived in the very same neighborhood,” she said. “The different ways men and women participated, and how their participation was documented and remembered afterward, reveal much about how U.S. borders were in flux at the time. Although Chinese and Mexican residents sometimes conflicted over claims to space and resources, the overlapping experiences of exclusion and urban geography presented opportunities, even if missed ones, for collective action.”

Quintana’’s urban borderlands include the Los Angeles Plaza area as a site of multiple, overlapping borders, where Chinese and Mexican migrants shared daily living spaces and experiences of segregation. Additionally, the displaced people navigated practices of exclusion aimed at restricting Chinese immigration and later repatriating Mexicans.

Quintana’’s research examines the late 19th and early 20th century racial geography of Los Angeles utilizing space, gender and work as categories of study.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information visit clabs.nmsu.edu.

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