This book owes many debts.

To Johanna Mizgala, curator, House of Commons Heritage Collection, who told me about CI 9s in the first place, and trusted me to know what to do when she sent me a CD-R of 2,406 certificates.

To Émilie Létourneau, lead archivist, Archives Branch, Library and Archives Canada, who was so gracious to serve as my collaborator on the SSHRC grant that allowed me to pursue the primary research for this book.

To Julienne Pascoe, digital archivist, Library and Archives Canada, who understood the relationship of the CI 9s to and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, and who generously helped me to see the relationships between the documents and the metadata attached to them. Thank you also for your friendship during different moments of vulnerability as I was trying to wrap my head around things that sometimes felt too big.

To Helen Piekosweski, who photographed every single CI 9 that I had acquired, treated them with so much tenderness, and understood that each is a work of art.

To Jonathan Crago, who stayed with this manuscript for years. You did not laugh when I asked you how we could give the book away for free if I published with MQUP. You sent me unwaveringly supportive emails during low moments. You bring so much care and deep intelligence to this work and you saw better than I did what this book could be.

To Scott Howard for brilliant, sensitive, and deft copyediting.

To the anonymous peer reviewers of the manuscript. Your work may not be immediately visible to the world, but you changed this book with the depth of your engagement and the great sensitivity of your critiques.

To the tremendous team at York University Libraries for finding a home for the CI 9s that are at the core of this book, and for helping me understand what I wanted from an Open Access monograph: Kris Joseph, Andrea Kosavics, Lisa Slownioski, and Anna St Onge. Special thanks to Anna for telling me to go look up diplomatics.

To Janet Friskney who taught me that there is no room for hope in a successful research grant application. The principal investigator does not hope to do the work. The principal investigator does the work thanks to research officers who help them find the funds to support the work.

To Alicia Filipowich who showed me how to spend the funds and was there at every step to make holding a research grant a truly rewarding experience. As a term, “post-award administration” does not do justice to the real pleasure and ease that Alicia brings to the bureaucracy of using grant funds to support research.

Alicia was also absolutely central to helping me put together an outstanding research team. It is my great privilege to acknowledge the contributions of so many brilliant undergraduate and graduate research assistants: Tiffany Phan, Shalika Sivathasan, Sara Rozenberg, Chloe (Rong) Shi, Rachel Wong, and Biwei Zhang.

To the members of the Toronto Photography Seminar. Particular thanks to Sarah Parsons and Thy Phu for reading early drafts of key chapters; to Laura Levin for insisting that I see myself in these conversations about photography; to Dot Tuer for asking me why I could write about my father and not my mother; to Deepali Dewan for telling me about her work with microfilm at the Royal Ontario Museum and showing me that digitally photographing microfilm was not only possible, but something that one of the best museums in the country had been doing for a long time; and huge special thanks to Gabrielle Moser and Sharon Sliwinski for agreeing to be joint guardians of the manuscript when I was scared of not being able to see it through all by myself.

To Tina Campt, Marianne Hirsch, and Brian Wallis for inviting me to see my research as part of much larger conversation about vernacular photography; and to Ali Behdad, Nicole Fleetwood, and Laura Wexler for having those conversations on stage with me at the “Imagining Everyday Life” symposium. Those conversations were central to allowing me to see how captivation is also a part of the work of capture.

To University College at the University of Toronto for the Canadian Studies Fellowship in 2010, which allowed me to begin my work on this book.

To Massey College at the University of Toronto and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation at York University for the York-Massey Fellowship, which allowed me to complete a major part of the manuscript in 2016–17. To Amela Marin. To Elena Ferranti. To the incredible Junior Fellows who made me think harder about all the important things. Particular thanks to Principal Hugh Segal.

During the years when I worked on this book, I served in a number of academic administrative positions at York University: undergraduate program director for the Department of English, chair of the Department of English, and associate dean, Global and Community Engagement, for the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. There is no way I could have found time for research and writing while holding these positions if I had not had the benefit of outstanding academic support staff who found that time for me. For always protecting my research time and doing your jobs so well so that I could do mine, sincere thanks to Michelle Anacleto, Kathy Armstrong, Debra Bisram, Rose Crawford, Meaghan McCue, and Rameila Williams.

To the dean and the merry band of associate deans in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University who made the work of navigating a big institution through the Before Times, and then through the pressures of a global pandemic, actually joyful: Peter Avery, Ravi de Costa, Roberta Iannacito-Provenzano, Michele Johnson, Sean Kheraj, Anita Lam, J.J. McMurtry, David Mutimer, and Sandra Whitworth. Administrative work can be consuming but it was Ananya Mukherjee-Reed who taught me that this work is also part of our life as researchers. I am grateful to have been able to do this work, to make it a part of my intellectual life, alongside such stellar decanal colleagues. To Kathryn McPherson who suggested that I enter this strange world of associate deanship in the first place.

To my Hook & Eye collaborators: Aimée Morrison, Melissa Dalgleish, and truly, deeply, especially, Erin Wunker, because fast feminism helped me to write slowly and thoughtfully.

To friends who have been a part of the journey of this book. It is a great gift to be in a profession where I can be surrounded by so many smart people. You may not have always known that you were talking about mass capture with me, but you were: Ian Balfour, Marcus Boon, Alexandra Boutros, Jessica Bucholz, Shannon Chace, David Chariandy, Mary Chapman, Katharine Charlton, David Clark, Alison Conway, Julia Creet, Andrea Davis, Kathyrn Doyle, Angela Failler, Joel Faflak, Lindsay Gonder, Eve Haque, Manina Jones, Martin Krieswirth, Sue Malley, Corey Mintz, Alex Panther, Saba Rafiq, Emma Rhodes, Emma Segal, Catherine Salole, Sarah Sharma, Katherine Skene, Sasha Torres, Bryce Traister, Pauline Wakeham, Deanne Williams and Rinaldo Walcott.

To Jennifer Harris, who responded to my desperate social media plea on New Year’s Eve, 2019, with her skills as a genealogy sleuth extraordinaire. In a matter of hours, I went from being unable to decipher the place of birth on James Ying Choury’s CI 9, to looking in wonder at his wedding photographs because Jennifer was so generous with her time and expertise.

To Stephen Slemon, always and forever, thanks: I would not be here if you had not told me to go to graduate school when I did not know that graduate school existed.

To my family, especially to my father, who showed me how to carve out a life of grace and kindness in the aftermath of his own mass capture.

To Harriet Frances Green. You are my all and my everything.

[1] Credits

A small portion of the introduction is published in “Mass Capture: The Making of Non-citizens and the Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents,” in “Migration Infrastructures and the Constitution of (Im)mobilities,” special issue, Mobilities 12, no. 2 (2017): 188–98.

A portion of chapter 2 is published in “Mass Capture against Memory: Chinese Head Tax and the Making of Non-citizens,” Citizenship Studies 22, no. 4 (2018): 381–400, doi:10.1080/13621025.2018.1462505.

The opening discussion of CI 9 nos. 20306 and 20307 in chapter 3 is published in the Champlain Society’s blog Findings/Trouvailles, “A Family Torn Apart as Revealed by the ‘Chinese Immigration 9 Form,’” 7 February 2019,

A portion of chapter 5 is published in Anticipating Citizenship: Chinese Head Tax Photographs,” in Feeling Photography, edited by Elspeth Brown and Thy Phu (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 159–80.

The research for this book has been generously supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant, the York University Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies Minor Research Grant, and the York Centre for Asian Research.

Preliminary versions of some of the arguments in this book have been presented at the following venues:

“Capture, Captivity, and Captivation in Migrant Labour Photograph Series.” Columbia University and the Walther Collection, New York, NY, 2018.

“Mass Capture: Chinese Head Tax Certificates and the Making of Noncitizens.” McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, McGill University, Montreal, QC, 2016.

“Anticipating Citizenship: Chinese Head Tax Photographs.” Studies in International and National Development Colloquium, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, 2010.

“Feeling and Citizenship: Chinese Head Tax Photographs.” Keynote address for “In Transit,” Comparative Literature graduate conference, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, 2010.

“Unsentimental Archive: Chinese Head Tax Photographs.” Critical Intimacies Speakers Series, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, 2010.

I am very grateful to the organizers for giving me the opportunity to think out loud with so many brilliant audiences throughout the years while the arguments for Mass Capture were taking shape.



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