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Empire's Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad


Manu Karuka, Barnard College

Monday, January 13, 2020
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Charles E. Young Research Library Main Conference Room

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In this talk, Dr. Manu Karuka will give an overview of his new book, Empire's Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad (University of California Press, 2019). Empire’s Tracks boldly reframes the history of the transcontinental railroad from the perspectives of the Cheyenne, Lakota, and Pawnee Native American tribes, and the Chinese migrants who toiled on its path. In this meticulously researched book, Karuka situates the railroad within the violent global histories of colonialism and capitalism. Through an examination of legislative, military, and business records, Karuka deftly explains the imperial foundations of U.S. political economy. Tracing the shared paths of Indigenous and Asian American histories, this multi-sited interdisciplinary study connects military occupation to exclusionary border policies, a linked chain spanning the heart of U.S. imperialism. Following the talk, Dr. Karuka will be hosting a workshop for students from 5:00 - 6:00pm in Rolfe 2125. Snacks will be provided. 

Manu Karuka is an assistant professor of American Studies at Barnard College. His work centers a critique of imperialism, with a particular focus on anti-racism and Indigenous decolonization.

UCLA acknowledges the Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (Los Angeles basin, So. Channel Islands) and are grateful to have the opportunity to work for the taraaxatom (indigenous peoples) in this place. As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to Honuukvetam (Ancestors), 'Ahiihirom (Elders), and 'eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present, and emerging.

Sponsor(s): Asia Pacific Center, Center for Study of International Migration, Center for Chinese Studies, Asian American Studies Center, Geography, Chinese, Urban Planning, Department of History, Pacific Southwest Region UTC, UCLA Institute of American Cultures, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, UCLA American Indian Studies Center, UCLA American Indian Studies, UCLA Labor Center