Below are the events we organized prior to the Fall 2015 semester. For upcoming events, please visit us here.
This talk tells the ironic story of how anti-Chinese laws helped foster the ubiquitous presence of Chinese restaurants in the United States. While it barred the entry of Chinese laborers, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and its various amendments unintentionally stimulated the formation of ethnic businesses through a system of visa preferences. Focusing on New York, which houses the oldest, continuously inhabited Chinatown in the United States, it explains how a 1915 legal precedent granted merchant status to restaurant owners and, therefore, motivated Chinese immigrants to become restaurateurs. Based on archival research and interviews conducted in China, Hong Kong, and New York, my talk explores how, in circumnavigating immigration laws, the Chinese developed a sophisticated system for shuttling labor and capital across the Pacific that accounts for, among other things, the Chinese restaurant industry’s rapid growth in the early twentieth century. Merchant status enabled Chinese immigrants to enter the United States legally and to sponsor relatives to do so as well. On the basis of that loophole, Chinese immigrants built what I call a “migration oriented business strategy” through which thousands were able to defy restrictions on their entry. The Chinese creatively stretched the meaning of visa categories to bypass restrictive immigration laws and shepherded transpacific capital past America’s gatekeepers. This research uncovers the formative role U.S. immigration law had on ethnic business like Chinese restaurants, and suggests how further study of ethnic capitalism should consider the dynamic interaction between exclusionary legal policy and the adaptive strategies of immigrant entrepreneurs.
Most every society has fermented alcoholic beverages—Mexican pulque, Peruvian chicha, Japanese sake, Chinese baijiu, Indian palm toddy, African sorghum beer—but a particular variety, German lager beer, has largely displaced these local brewing traditions to become a global consumer icon. This talk examines how European beer traveled the world over the last two hundred years through networks of trade, migration, and colonialism. It pays particular attention to the role of taste in the reception of beer. The talk concludes by comparing the recent spread of craft brewing to earlier migrations of beer.
Jeffrey Pilcher is a Professor in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He has been a leading figure in the emerging scholarly field of food history. From an early research focus on Mexico and Latin America, he has expanded his scope to food in world history. He is the author of ¡Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (1998), The Sausage Rebellion: Public Health, Private Enterprise, and Meat in Mexico City (2006), and Food in World History (2006). His latest book, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food (2012), seeks to historicize authenticity and show how Mexico’s national cuisine developed through global interactions, particularly with Mexican American cooks. His current book project examines the world history of beer over the past two hundred years.
A reception will follow the talk. This event is sponsored by the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC, the Department of History, UTSG, and Mill Street Brewery.
Limited seats. To register, click HERE.
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