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Hidetaka Hirota, PhD,
Boston College, History

Hidetaka Hirota is a historian of American immigration. He received his PhD in History from Boston College, where his dissertation was awarded the university’s best humanities dissertation prize. His major research and teaching interests include race and ethnicity in America with special attention to issues of nativism, American immigration law and policy, wealth and poverty in America, global migration, and transnational history.

Hirota’s current book project, tentatively titled Expelling the Poor, examines the origins of immigration restriction in the United States, especially American deportation policy. It locates the roots of American immigration control in nativism and economics in nineteenth-century Atlantic seaboard states. The influx of impoverished immigrants from Ireland during the first half of the nineteenth century led New York and Massachusetts to develop policies for prohibiting the landing of destitute foreigners and deporting those already in the states to Ireland, Britain, Canada, or other American states. Expelling the Poor demonstrates that these two states’ immigration policies, which were driven by cultural prejudice against the Irish and economic concerns about their poverty, laid the foundations for later federal restriction policies. By analyzing the lives of deported paupers in Britain and Ireland, Expelling the Poor also places American nativism in a transnational context and reveals that American deportation policy operated as part of a broader legal culture of excluding paupers from societies in the Atlantic world.

Hirota’s article, “The Moment of Transition: State Officials, the Federal Government, and the Formation of American Immigration Policy,” received the Organization of American Historians Louis Pelzer Memorial Award and has been published in the Journal of American History. A review of the article is available here. His forthcoming article, which examines the development of New York’s immigration policy, will be published in the Journal of American Ethnic History.

Hirota is a recipient of grants from the American Historical Association, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the American Society for Legal History, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Notre Dame Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. He has presented his work at an array of conferences, including the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Studies Association, as well as various international meetings in Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland, and Japan.

In the 2013-2014 academic year, Hirota will teach “Wealth and Poverty in America” in the Department of History and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and “Contemporary Civilization.”

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