"A Forgotten History: How the Asian American Workforce Cultivated Monterey County's Agricultural Industry, Despite National Anti-Asian Rhetoric"

Hastings Envt'l L.J. 229 (2021)

Dominique Marangoni-Simonsen (Associate-San Francisco) analyzes the implementation of exclusionary citizenship laws against Chinese and Japanese immigrants from 1880 to 1940 in her 2021 article, "A Forgotten History: How the Asian American Workforce Cultivated Monterey County's Agricultural Industry, Despite National Anti-Asian Rhetoric," which appeared in the 2021 edition of Hastings Environmental Law Journal. She further analyzes the application of these exclusionary mechanisms to the Asian immigrant populations in Monterey County, California. Dominique identifies how the agricultural industry in Monterey County circumvented these exclusion laws in favor of the labor force of Japanese immigrants. She compares the acceptance of Japanese laborers to the decimation of the Chinese fishing industry in Monterey County, and the subsequent eradication of Chinese culture. Finally, the paper analyzes the retroactive effects of these laws to the Feast of Lanterns* festival, which inadequately characterized that Chinese culture due to a "white" lens. In summation, this paper discusses the varied exclusionary mechanisms of Asian Americans: the violent methods to prevent Chinese and Filipino immigrant assimilation, and the relative acceptance of Japanese immigrants due to their dutiful labor in the agricultural industry, using Monterey, California as a case study, and finally how the achievement of Chinese exclusion is reflected in a manifestly amnestic history of Asian Americans in Monterey.

* A subsequent article containing an interview with Dominique by the Monterey County Weekly along with a collective push against the Feast of Lanterns, led to Monterey County halting the event in February 2022 and issuing an apology to the Chinese community in April 2022. See more news related to the festival.

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