Pegler-Gordon Reviews

Anna Pegler-Gordon looks at how photography had been used to visualize race. Pegler-Gordon uses the early photography of Chinese immigrants to show this. The use of photography and medical examinations were two ways to restrict people from the United States. For it was only the non-European immigrants at Angel Island and on the Mexican-US border who were photographed. The subjects of these photographs did protest them because they felt it criminalized them. In turn the Chinese immigrants would forge or manipulate the photos to be awarded entry. Photography as a way to define race is easily accepted today because of the use of media and visual representation, but the study of photography in relation to race and immigration was largely ignored because of the small to nonexistent European subjects.

Some issues with the book include looking too deeply into the subject matter at times. What Pegler-Gordon does well though is in asking numerous questions about the methods and motivations for research is important to recognize the limited focus in some areas of immigration studies. Another well written area of Pegler-Gordon’s book is the focus on the three main immigration location; Ellis Island, Angel Island, and the Mexican-US border. Beyond photography Pegler-Gordon looks at the alternative ways to seek entry into the United States through nationality and race changes or familiar claims. The book shows the how the confusing and expansive policies were manipulated by those who had to enforce them and who the laws were intended for.

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