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Life of PaperLetters and a Poetics of Living Beyond Captivity$
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Sharon Luk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520296237

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520296237.001.0001

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Imagined Genealogies (for All Who Cannot Arrive)

Imagined Genealogies (for All Who Cannot Arrive)

(p.51) Two Imagined Genealogies (for All Who Cannot Arrive)
Life of Paper

Sharon Luk

University of California Press

Chapter Two begins by illustrating how technologies of the life of paper articulated a distinctive regional geography that diverged from the Eurocentric telos of development. This chapter further investigates the production of “coaching letters,” or documents educating people on how to “pass” Immigration interrogations, examining how the act of ordering and representing knowledge on paper forced a confrontation between different systems of thought that transformed what, and how, people thought of themselves and the world. A final series of close readings demonstrates social transformations occurring through the life of paper, returning to the overarching point: that such movements constitute a creative reinvention of human connectivity under the constraints of racialized alienation and confinement—a poetics, or process of collective self-making, creating an unapparent place inside and between material realities.

Keywords:   Chinese Exclusion, Immigration, Infrastructure, Paper families, Coaching letters, Modernity

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