In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • America's Areas
  • Esmat Elhalaby (bio)
America's Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State. By Osamah F. Khalil. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. 440 pages. $35.00 (cloth).
The End of Concern: Maoist China, Activism, and Asian Studies. By Fabio Lanza. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. 280 pages. $94.95 (cloth). $25.95 (paper).
Field Notes: The Making of Middle East Studies in the United States. By Zachary Lockman. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016. 376 pages. $90.00 (cloth). $29.95 (paper).

Despite sanitized narration in the state's curricula, California's gold rush was a frenzied example of settler colonialism's extractive and genocidal impulses. As the streams ran out of gold and the land was all parceled out, the maiming and murder of Natives began apace. According to the historian Brendan Lindsay, the particular conditions of the gold rush meant that "California's Native population faced a genocidal assault perhaps unrivaled in North America in terms of its ferocity, bloodiness, and loss of human life."1 Like many of California's mid-nineteenth-century settlers, Horace Carpentier, the first mayor of the city he christened Oakland, California, had made his way west in search of that blood-stained gold. A lawyer turned real estate speculator from New York City, in the early 1850s Carpentier became the owner of much of Oakland's coast after conning Antonio Maria Peralta out of land he had been gifted by Alta California's last Spanish governor. Carpentier successfully, if controversially, used the laws of conquest to acquire the land and remove its inhabitants. Seeking greater profits, California's capitalists desired imported labor, which in the case of mid-nineteenth-century Northern California often came from China.2 Carpentier himself made ample use of Chinese labor in his lucrative projects, including the construction of several wharves on the San Francisco Bay and completion of the first transcontinental telegraph.3 He also traveled to China, where he employed a Chinese valet, Dean Lung. Once—at least—a [End Page 233] drunken Carpentier beat Lung unconscious. Seemingly in search of atonement, Carpentier asked Lung what he could do to express gratitude for Lung's years of loyal service. Lung reportedly replied that he wanted nothing for himself, but, he said, "United States people know little about Chinese culture and philosophy. Could you do something about that?"4 Carpentier, a trustee at Columbia University, donated more than $200,000 to the university to support the study of China. The Dean Lung Professorship of Chinese Studies was born.

Beyond the circuitous routes of colonial capital and racialized labor that built the institutions of American "oriental" studies in the United States is the knowledge forged in conquest itself. Area studies in the US emerged out of the study of America's "areas" and the colonization of the North American continent. The origins of American ethnology, philology, and geography is Native displacement, and their archives are the museums and libraries of the United States' oldest universities. American studies, therefore, is area studies. American scholarly concerns with the "foreign" and the "domestic"—in the nineteenth century, during the Cold War, and today—are thoroughly entangled, both methodologically and politically.5 Manan Ahmed has written how the projects of ethnological and philological collection and classification undertaken by US government institutions like the Smithsonian "set the foundational relationship between philological inquiry, territorial control and the collecting of national data."6 "Philologies of race" are what Robert Lawrence Gunn has called the attempts to read Native American grammars and vocabularies on the basis of anatomy.7 But the involvement of social scientists in the destruction of Native lives and lifeworlds was not simply a project of nineteenth-century American state building. In his 1969 "Indian Manifesto," Custer Died for Your Sins, Vine Deloria Jr. famously skewered those anthropologists for whom Native life is the source of their government- and foundation-funded studies and reports. "Into each life, it is said, some rain must fall. Some people have bad horoscopes, others take tips on the stock market. McNamara created the TFX and the Edsel. Churches possess the real world. But," Deloria concluded, "Indians have...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 233-246
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-03
Open Access
No
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