Join Mae Ngai and Aziz Rana as they discuss family lives and legal battles that offer insight into the Chinese-American experience. Called an “absorbing story” by The New York Times, The Lucky Ones, the latest book by historian and Guggenheim fellow Mae Ngai, is a compelling account of three generations of the Tape family, whose patriarch, Jeu Dip, arrives by himself on “Gold Mountain” as a young teenage immigrant from China and becomes Joesph Tape. He, his children, and his grandchildren go on to play pivotal roles in the Chinese American community, illuminating the legacy of the immigrant experience for all Americans. In The Two Faces of American Freedom, legal scholar Aziz Rana argues that America’s origins as a settler society have defined how we think of freedom and rights for three centuries. Taking a close look at the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (an act that the first “lucky” Tape generation barely missed) Rana shows the practices of liberty and exclusion that form a central tension in the American political tradition. Legal scholar Jedidiah Purdy calls The Two Faces of Freedom “[a] strikingly original and powerful account of American political culture.” This rare multi-genre reading and conversation will look at the Chinese in America from inside and out, revealing their centrality to the American narrative.
Mae M. Ngai is a professor at Columbia University. She is author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, which won the Frederick Jackson Turner award, and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America. She has also written on immigration history and policy for The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and The Boston Review.
Aziz Rana received his A.B. summa cum laude from Harvard College and his J.D. from Yale Law School. Prior to joining the Cornell Law School faculty, he was an Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fellow in Law at Yale. Much of his writing focuses on how notions of republicanism and expansion shaped U.S. constitutional development.