Christine Okoth (KCL) - 2014-15 Students

Restricted Access: Immigration Reform and Cultural Production in the United States post 1965

Focusing particularly on literature, my doctoral project considers the cultural production of new immigrant groups in the United States after the 1965 Hart-Celler Act and their responses to the residual presence of 19th century legally inscribed racist practices. 1965 marked the abolition of National Origin Quotas which were replaced with a preference system, allowing foreign nationals previously banned from entering the country to migrate to the United States for the first time. The thesis will focus particularly on migrants from Africa and Asia, geographical locations where the ban was most rigorously enforced and where its lifting was most noticeably felt, to explore how these groups intervene in cultural conversations on race and gender. Some of my research questions are: How do new migrants depict their relationship to the culture of racialized U.S. citizens such as African Americans and Asian Americans? What effect do their continued transnational ties have on financial, cultural, and political spheres in both the country of origin and the U.S. nation-state?

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