Unspoken Exclusions

Lara Putnam

in Workers Across the Americas

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199731633
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894420 | DOI:
Unspoken Exclusions

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The 1924 Johnson-Reed Act is studied as a milepost of nativist racism. It states worldwide legislated race-based restrictions on entry, citizenship, and employment in the interwar years and adopted linked technologies to control borders, identify persons, and limit employment and mobility on the basis of nationality. This chapter examines formal immigration restrictions enacted in Central America, the Caribbean, and the United States in the 1920s with newspaper sources from the region reconstructing their implementation. By carefully interpreting terms like country, nation, and self-governing, the institutional actors enforcing the Johnson-Reed Act—which contained no explicit restrictions on the entry or citizenship of Afro-descended peoples—made it function as a total ban on black immigration. The United States masked its program of antiblack exclusion; in the Spanish-speaking circum-Caribbean republics, where color was rarely given governmental sanction, black immigration was openly, officially outlawed on the explicit basis of race. Within the British Empire, the Crown's acquiescence as British subjects of African and Asian ancestry—and none others—were stripped of their right of entry by nation after nation undercut the pretense of race-blind imperial equity. This pan-American state racism, expulsion, and return migration was crucial to racialized anticolonialism in the British Caribbean.

Keywords: migration; Caribbean; Johnson-Reed Act; racism; restrictionism

Chapter.  12831 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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