Here are a few questions to get us thinking (I have a couple more for class). I hope everyone enjoyed reading Coolies and Cane!
- What is the argument of this work? What sources does Jung engage with to support his overall argument?
- What and who were “coolies”?
- What were the various American perspectives of “coolieism,” and how did these views change over time?
- 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?
- Why does Jung engage with both the Haitian Revolution and the British West Indies? What does this bring to his argument?
- Does Jung challenge the traditional Reconstruction narrative, or does he rehash the same story with different characters?
- 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?
- Was emancipation a failure? Did Reconstruction result in a “tragedy,” a “splendid failure,” or something else? How so?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?