Rice University logo
Top blue bar image A Nation Of Abolitionists
A History Blog by W. E. Skidmore II

Coolies and Cane Questions

Hi Everyone,

Here are a few questions to get us thinking (I have a couple more for class).  I hope everyone enjoyed reading Coolies and Cane!

  1. What is the argument of this work?  What sources does Jung engage with to support his overall argument?
  2. What and who were “coolies”?
  3. What were the various American perspectives of “coolieism,” and how did these views change over time?
  4. According to Jung, how were debates over coolie laborers in the United States integral to the ideological constructions of race and citizenship in the United States during Reconstruction?
  5. Why does Jung engage with both the Haitian Revolution and the British West Indies?  What does this bring to his argument?
  6. Does Jung challenge the traditional Reconstruction narrative, or does he rehash the same story with different characters?
  7. Does Jung see “change” or “continuity,” especially in regards to southern labor relations, between the antebellum and postbellum periods? More specifically, was coolie labor a continuation of slavery, or a different form of exploitative labor practices?
  8. Was emancipation a failure?  Did Reconstruction result in a “tragedy,” a “splendid failure,” or something else?  How so?
  9.  In this work, Jung focuses heavily on Louisiana (among other regions).  Is Louisiana representative of the larger United States?  The Caribbean?  The Southern United States?
  10. Jung estimates that between seventy-one and two thousand coolie laborers were in Louisiana by 1870 (p. 184).  Is Jung upfront about these limited numbers, and how does this affect his overall argument?
  11. What kind of history is this? (Social, Cultural, Political, Transnational, etc.)  If written from the perspective of Chinese immigrants, how would this work be different?


One Response to “Coolies and Cane Questions”

  1. Thanks, Wes! Looking forward to tomorrow’s discussion.