Mae M. Ngai is an assistant professor of United States history at the University of Chicago. Her main teaching and research interests pertain to questions of transnational migration, citizenship, race and ethnicity, and nations and nationalism. Ngai’s first book, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton University Press, 2004), is about the origins of illegal immigration to the United States in the twentieth century and its impact on American ideas and practices about citizenship, race, and state authority.
At the Radcliffe Institute, Ngai will conduct research for a biography of a prominent late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century family, whose members were language and cultural interpreters. She will examine questions of social organization and class formation, the role of Chinese interpreters in the US Immigration Service, civil rights and assimilation, and legal and illegal immigration.
Ngai received her PhD from Columbia University in 1998. Her publications include “The Architecture of Race in American Immigration Law: A Re-examination of the Immigration Act of 1924,” Journal of American History (1999), which won the Louis Pelzer Memorial Award from the Organization of American Historians, and, more recently, “The Strange Career of the Illegal Aliens: Immigration Restriction and Deportation Policy in the US, 1921–1965,” Law and History Review (2003). Her previous grants include postdoctoral fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and New York University School of Law.