'You Will See My Family Became so American': Race, Citizenship, and the Visual Archive

Forthcoming chapter in Law and the Visual: Representations, Technologies, and Critique (ed. Desmond Manderson), 2018

25 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2018  

Sherally Munshi

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: March 8, 2018

Abstract

In 1932, the United States government sought to cancel the citizenship of Dinshah Ghadiali, an immigrant from India, alleging that Ghadiali “by reason of his not being a free white person or a person of African nativity or descent is, and was, ineligible racially for naturalization.” Ghadiali was one of dozens of Indian immigrants targeted for denaturalization in the wake of United States v. Thind (1923), in which the Supreme Court declared that “Hindus,” though capable of cultural assimilation, would remain visually unassimilable. At his denaturalization trial, Ghadiali submitted into evidence a series of photographs, assuring the judge, “You will see my family became so American.” How do these photographs purport to show that Ghadiali and his family had become “so American”? In this essay, through a through a close reading of Ghadiali’s photography, I explore a tension between the visualization of race—a practice at once institutionalized by law and inextricably bound with the medium of photography—and the performance of national belonging.

Keywords: Immigration, immigration law, citizenship, photography, race, racism, india, history, visual, culture, humanities

Suggested Citation

Munshi, Sherally, 'You Will See My Family Became so American': Race, Citizenship, and the Visual Archive (March 8, 2018). Forthcoming chapter in Law and the Visual: Representations, Technologies, and Critique (ed. Desmond Manderson), 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3136547

Sherally Munshi (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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