Empire's Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad

Thursday, April 4, 2019 6:00PM

<p><em>Empire's Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad</p></em>
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Please reserve prior to the event. Our space has limited capacity.

Where: California Historical Society Headquarters, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

Cost: $10 General Admission, Free for CHS Members, plus one guest per membership.

May 10, 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of North America’s first transcontinental railroad. While often remembered as a signal moment in the history of U.S. westward expansion and the culmination of national infrastructural development, Manu Karuka’s new book Empire’s Tracks, provocatively argues that this moment should be understood within the context of imperialism. For Karuka, the transcontinental railroad was built at the nexus of war and finance, through violent processes that produced partition and isolation rather than connection. To speak of the railroad, and indeed of the United States in national terms, Karuka argues, is to cede the grounds of colonialism. By examining the history of the transcontinental railroad from Cheyenne, Chinese, Lakota, and Pawnee perspectives, Empire’s Tracks provides a history of what he calls continental imperialism in North America. Reframed in this light, Karuka describes how the transcontinental railroad transformed California from a distant colony of the United States into a vital part of its continental empire. Karuka joins Joanne Barker, Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University, in conversation about imperialism, Indigenous histories, and the history of California.

About Manu Karuka:

Manu Karuka is the author of Empire’s Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad (University of California Press, 2019). He is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at Barnard College, and a member of the Council for Collaborative Inquiry.

About Joanne Barker:

Joanne Barker is Lenape (a citizen of the Delaware Tribe of Indians). She is professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University. She has been at SFSU since 2003. She is currently serving on the Segora Te Land Trust Board, the Critical Ethnic Studies Journal Board, the Bode Pearson Prize Award Committee of the American Studies Association, and as Interim Assistant Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies. She has written or edited the following publications, The Red Scare: The Empire's Indigenous Terrorist(University of California Press, contracted). Editor, Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2017). Native Acts: Law, Recognition, and Cultural Authenticity (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011). Editor, Sovereignty Matters: Locations of Contestation and Possibility in Indigenous Struggles for Self-Determination (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005).