Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders

Bibliography File Note.


Adam M. McKeown

Columbia University Press



Library Catalog
Google Books


A careful look at the processes of globalization over the past two hundred years reveals that the practices and ideologies of global interaction rose in conjunction with the global consolidation of a system of nation states and borders. The global standardization of migration control and identity documentation (e.g., passports and visas) is a concrete example of this globalization of borders, designed to both facilitate and limit movement. This book argues many of the standard principles and techniques of global migration and identity regulation were developed from 1880 to 1910 through the control of Asian migration to white settler nations around the Pacific. The development of migration controls was inseparable from the creation of the Pacific as a divide between civilized and non-civilized states. In this context, migration control was linked to the process of marking Asians as people who were uncivilized and incapable of self-rule. These procedures then diffused around the world standards for the control of migration between all nations. The techniques originally designed to exclude Asia from full participation in the “family of civilized nations” became universalized into techniques to be employed by all states. Most scholarship on contemporary migration is unaware of the long global history of political intervention into migration and how it created a world that we have since taken for granted. This book shows that migration and the consolidation of territorial borders have been deeply entwined historical processes. The historical difficulties of migration control reflect a fundamental tension between the liberal ideals of free mobility and the consolidation of national states and citizenship.

Short Title
Melancholy Order

# of Pages

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