Immigration and Urban History Seminar Due Credit: Chinese Workers and the Central Pacific Railroad 28 April 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Manu Vimalassery, Barnard College Hidetaka Hirota, Columbia University

It is commonplace to remember Chinese labor on the transcontinental railroad as part of a pageant of
national belonging. But if we focus on imperialism and capitalism, rather than belonging, how might we
remember Chinese migrant labor on the Central Pacific differently? This talk will consider Chinese
railroad labor in relation to the history and politics of imperialism, race, and freedom, in a context of
global Chinese and South Asian indentured labor migrations. Chinese workers’ migration debts, as well
as their racialization and community institutions, provided means of labor control, exploitation, and
differentiation that were at the heart of Central Pacific Railroad business strategies. These strategies
displaced risk and violence onto Chinese workers in order to concentrate profit and power at the upper
echelons of corporate decision-making.