My work centers on the connections between race, place, and public policy in the US West and Greater Southwest from the 18th to 20th centuries. I’m working on two projects now. One seeks to grant subjectivity to American Chinese in the 19th century, asking specifically how immigrants from China understood themselves and the world around them in terms of race and other nodes of social identity. Given the paucity of sources, I am digitizing the Los Angeles and Central Valley census records, fire insurance maps, and other sources from 1850-1900 in an effort to map American Chinese spatial practices and thereby grant them voice by analyzing their strategies for community arrangement. The second project, _West of Jim Crow_, considers Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. technologies of racialization and marginalization, which targeted Native, Mexican, Chinese, and African descended people (by turns). The evidence suggests that social segregation, vagrancy laws and other public policies, chain gangs, and extra legal violence in New Spain, Mexico, and then the US West laid a blueprint for Southern anti-Black Jim Crow after the Civil War.
This work follows the publication of _Before L.A.: Race, Space, and Municipal Power in Los Angeles, 1781-1895_ (Yale UP, 2013), which began as my dissertation at UCSB.
You can read my most recent article here: http://ch.ucpress.edu/content/93/1/45Making Los Angeles: Race, Space, and Municipal Power, 1822-1890Paul Spickard