Beth Lew-Williams is a historian of race and migration in the United States, specializing in Asian American history. Her current project examines the role of Chinese migration and anti-Chinese violence in the making of modern U.S. border control. Her manuscript, The Chinese Must Go (under contract with Harvard University Press), offers a new history of Chinese Exclusion that maps the tangled relationships between local racial violence, federal immigration policy, and U.S. imperial ambitions in Asia.
Lew-Williams is also a contributor to the Chinese Railroad Workers in North American Project at Stanford University. This transnational collaborative effort seeks to give voice to the Chinese migrants who built the transcontinental railroad and transformed the U.S. West.
Lew-Williams earned her A.B. from Brown University and Ph.D. in history from Stanford University. She has held fellowships from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Before coming to Princeton in 2014, she was an ACLS New Faculty Fellow at Northwestern University appointed in History and Asian American Studies.
In 2015-2016, she is on leave at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Her teaching interests include Asian American studies, migration, ethnic studies, violence, and the history of the U.S. West.
“‘Chinamen’ and ‘Delinquent Girls’: Intimacy, Exclusion and a Search for California’s Color Line,” Journal of American History (forthcoming December 2017).
“Before Restriction Became Exclusion: America’s Experiment in Diplomatic Immigration Control,” Pacific Historical Review 83, no. 1 (February 2014): 24-56.